The World Acadian Congress: building relationships
by Carol Doucet, Moncton, New Brunswick
In honour of André Boudreau
During the 2009 World Acadian Congress, a monument (in French only) will be erected and unveiled in Nigadoo on August 3, 2009, in recognition of André Boudreau’s achievements (1945–2005).
The year 1994 will be remembered as a pivotal year in the history of the Acadian people: the year the first World Acadian Congress was held. However, it was in Toronto, in 1988, that the idea of hosting a world Acadian congress first took shape. The suggestion was made by a renowned Acadian nationalist from New Brunswick, Jean-Marie Nadeau. This idea, which initially seemed far-fetched but very interesting, was soon taken up by André Boudreau. This Acadian from Nigadoo, in northern New Brunswick, settled in Alberta in the early 1990s, where he worked to promote the Canadian Francophonie.
From the outset, the mission of the World Acadian Congress clearly outlined the event as one meant to foster closer ties among Acadians worldwide. The Acadian people, scattered around the world, believed it was important to come together to share ideas, meet relatives and discuss common interests.
This large, international Acadian gathering is held every five years, and the next one will take place from August 7 to 23, 2009, in the Acadian Peninsula, north-eastern New Brunswick.
Acadia, a region without borders and a people scattered around the world who get together every five years
Acadia was founded in 1604, after the French came to settle in this part of Canada located east of Quebec, and which is now the Atlantic region. In 1755, the deportation of the Acadian people by the British led to the scattering of Acadians around the world. Acadians today live in very dynamic communities (in French only) in the Atlantic provinces of Canada, in Quebec, in Louisiana and elsewhere.
The 2009 World Acadian Congresswill bring together Acadians from the Atlantic provinces, as well as people who are interested in Acadia. Participants will come mostly from the Maritimes and other Canadian provinces, but also from around the world, namely the United States (including Louisiana, New England and Texas) and France. Since Acadians are scattered about the globe, the Congress is always an opportunity for relatives to reconnect with each other.
2009 summer program
The 2009 World Acadian Congress will be a large gathering, complete with family reunions, large public celebrations, world-class performances, thematic and community activities, as well as scientific and general lectures. In short, the 2009 Congress will feature about 400 activities for all tastes and ages, all across the Acadian Peninsula. The theme of the 2009 event is L’Acadie rassemble (Acadia comes together).
This event will be an opportunity for visitors to learn more about a primarily Acadian region that is unique in all its diversity, as well as to meet forward-looking people. People from the Acadian Peninsula will have a golden opportunity to introduce themselves to a world audience. But first and foremost, the event will be a special time to meet Acadian relatives from around the world, celebrate a common history and culture, and help shape the future.
Brief history of the World Acadian Congress
The first World Acadian Congress was held in August 1994 in south-eastern New Brunswick. Nine Francophone municipalities in this region came together to form the organizing committee. Five years later, in 1999, the secondCongress was held in Louisiana. The thirdCongress was held in Nova Scotia in 2004, the year of Acadia’s 400th anniversary celebrations.
Giving people with the same family name a chance to reconnect has always been at the root of the World Acadian Congress. These gatherings are truly memorable and help create lasting relationships. In fact, many distant friends and cousins arrange to meet every five years so they can catch up with each other! This is why over 80 families have already registered for the 2009 Congress. These gatherings are open not only to families with Acadian roots, but also to both English-speaking and French-speaking families interested in Acadia.
It is expected that 300,000 to 350,000 people will take part in the August 2009 event, with at least 20,000 coming from more than 100 kilometres away from the host region. The event’s budget is approximately $12 million over a six-year period. The projected direct and indirect economic benefits are estimated at $33 million.
You can find more information about the 2009 World Acadian Congress at www.cma2009.ca.