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In Pursuit of Justice

 

Warren Perrin

 

It is true that the truth comes out of the mouths of children. Upon learning the story of the Grand Dérangement, the young son of a Cajun lawyer asks his father innocently if his Acadian ancestors were not criminals since the English law had decreed it so by expelling them from Acadia, renamed Nova Scotia. This remark triggered the transformation of Warren Perrin into a cultural activist and eventually the third President of CODOFIL from 1994 to 2010, by way of defying the English crown. Before that, he was a successful lawyer with a large law firm in Lafayette and a small office in his hometown of Erath in Vermilion Parish. This simple question asked in 1988 prompted him, after lengthy negotiations with the representatives of Queen Elizabeth II, to obtain in 2003 an official apology for the deportation of the Acadians.

Perrin's mandate was marked by the expansion of immersion programs and the battle against negative stereotypes of Louisiana Francophones. According to him, his main objective was to bring together and draw attention to Louisiana Francophones at the state and international level. One of his first acts was to gather over a weekend many important individuals in Francophone cultural movements. Harkening back to a former Acadian organization, La Patente, he listened to people to know in which direction he should push CODOFIL. He has led, and still leads, a fight against the use of a term, still widespread, whose very origin is controversial, designating a racoon’s derrière as a symbol of an entire people.

He served four governors and was behind the creation of the Francophone Section of the Louisiana Bar Association. He represented Louisiana at five Summits of La Francophonie. For his first, in Hanoi in 1997, he traveled on the plane of French President Jacques Chirac who, in his youth, had driven a taxi in New Orleans. According to Perrin, the 1999 World Acadian Congress was a key moment in the development of an idea of belonging to a global Francophonie based on kinship and friendship. Several family associations formed for the occasion still exist, such as La Famille Beausoleil Broussard who is behind the New Acadia Project. By weaving these links, Perrin reduced the cultural and linguistic isolation of French-speaking Louisianans and opened new horizons for the future.

Develop cultural tourism, teach French to children and restore pride in our Francophone culture; these are the lofty goals he aimed at and achieved. He is still active in the culture with the New Acadia Project looking for the exact place where his ancestor Beausoleil Broussard, who also defied the crown, is buried. Author of soon-to-be nine books on Acadian history in Louisiana, Perrin has built another oeuvre around the pride of being Cajun and Francophone which he wants to transmit to a new generation. All that just to prove to his son, and to all of us, that we are not criminals in the eyes of the law.

 

 

 

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