Standardbearers of Acadian Identity
Centre d'études acadiennes
Between 1760 and 1800, Acadians are taking an increasing interest in political life. One of their first demands is the right to own property.
When Catholics, chiefly Irish and Scottish, obtain the right to vote in Nova Scotia in 1789, the Acadians begin to make their presence felt in public life. The French-speaking population is gradually mobilized, and from the mid-19th century on, this "Renaissance" leads the Acadians to demand better socioeconomic conditions. The Catholic Church is at the heart of these struggles, and the members of religious orders, both men and women, become leaders in a society in which promoting the French language is increasingly considered to be a worthwhile endeavour. From many points of view, their efforts are a success.
In the 20th century, the election of Louis-J. Robichaud, who served as premier of New Brunswick from 1960 to 1970, marks the dawn of a new era for the province. The adoption in 1969 of the Official Languages Act of New Brunswick and of the federal Official Languages Act help the Acadian community to flourish.
In 1972 the provincial Parti acadien [Acadian Party] is formed with the goal of promoting the socioeconomic emancipation of New Brunswick's Acadian community. It plays an important role, especially in getting the Act Recognizing the Equality of the Two Official Linguistic Communities in New Brunswick passed in 1981, but no longer exists today.
In Atlantic Canada, representation of French-speaking communities at the federal and provincial levels varies from province to province. New Brunswick has the highest rate of participation of Acadians in public life. In 1999 Prince Edward Island also passes its first law respecting services in French and the Government of Nova Scotia is considering doing the same.
Today the cultural and socioeconomic vitality that can be seen throughout Atlantic Acadia is shifting into the political arena. Throughout their history, the Acadians have managed to "Acadianize" practically every aspect of public life.
Will we one day witness the birth of a true political Acadie-