Standardbearers of Acadian Identity
Centre d'études acadiennes, 2005
In the late 18th century, seeking stability after the Deportation, the Acadians began to petition the British authorities in the Maritimes for the right to own property.
After obtaining the vote in the early 19th century, increasing numbers of French Catholics in the Maritime provinces entered the public arena. Indeed, they gradually entered politics--regional, provincial and federal--from 1867 on.
During the Acadian Renaissance, beginning in the 1860s, the Acadian elites began to hone their positions on Acadian identity and nationalism: religious figures and intellectuals alike favoured the promotion of education and the French language, as well as greater political involvement, which was considered to be the path to emancipation. This awakening of consciousness was particularly evident during the large national conventions organized starting in 1881.
In New Brunswick, the 20th century was marked for Acadians by a man who would usher in many important changes, Louis-J. Robichaud. Premier from 1960 to 1970, he launched a major reform program with the aim of establishing socioeconomic balance among the inhabitants of the province and thus offering Acadian society an "equal chance" to develop.
Yet the Acadians had not achieved everything they sought; they continued their social debate, not just by taking their place in existing political parties, but by creating their own party. Thus New Brunswick sociopolitics saw a new generation of men and women with new ideas, grappling more with contemporary Acadian realities. The founding of the Parti acadien (1972-82) also got people thinking about various aspects of Acadian reality.