En Français, s’il vous plaît: The World Acadian Congress 2019

Twenty-five years of Congresses

In 1604, Pierre Dugua de Mons founded a French colony on St. Croix Island, now in the state of Maine. After a deadly winter, he moved it to the other side of La Baie Française (Bay of Fundy today) in Port Royal. From there was born Acadia which, 390 years later, celebrated the first World Acadian Congress in the province of New Brunswick in 1994. Meanwhile, many historical events have formed the people called the Acadians, not to mention the infamous Grand Dérangement of 1755. The sense of solidarity among those who consider themselves Acadians or of Acadian origin has solidified over the years around other gatherings meant to determine their own destiny parallel to or outside of the dominant political bodies. The story of Acadia is one of survival against all odds, punctuated by great encounters.

At this first congress, a Louisiana delegation made the pilgrimage to Acadia to find their distant cousins. In fact, it was not the first time Louisianans made the trip; Dudley LeBlanc brought “Evangelines” there in the 1930s. The CMA 94 participants were so caught up in the idea of re-organizing the convention here five years later that the Lt. Governor’s office included the CMA 99 in the tri-centennial celebrations of the founding of Louisiana as a colony. In this way, the Acadians of the North were able to see what August is like in Louisiana. They promised to come back, but at another time of the year, in winter for example when snow covers the ground back home. Subsequently, the idea of organizing the CMA every five years has taken root and we are now at its sixth iteration.

From August 10 to 24, 2019, twenty-five years after the first one, the CMA will take place on Prince Edward Island and in southeastern New Brunswick. In addition to concerts and family reunions – the most popular events – artistic gatherings and academic conferences about young people and women are also planned. The focus of this edition will be on inclusion and diversity. In this way, a large place is reserved for people who have strong ties to Acadia without being Acadians. Again this year, many Louisiana will make the trip. On the musical side, Louisiana will be proudly represented by Zachary Richard, Wayne Toups, Roddy Romero, Cedric Watson, Sweet Crude and the Savoy family.

The sustainability of future congresses ensured, the seventh CMA is already in preparation for 2024 with the selection of southwestern Nova Scotia, the communities of Clare and Argyle, as the host region. The theme will be, “Come Live Your Acadia”. Acadians, be they so by birth, heritage or adoption, will gather once again in large numbers, as well as many from Louisiana. Ironically, it would seem the more the Acadian aspect of Franco-Louisiana identity is questioned in favor of a rapprochement to Creole, the more Louisiana and Acadia as societies come closer.