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Acadians on PEI

 


Acadian National Conventions

Poster of Acadian National Convention held in Miscouche, PEI

Acadian National Conventions and Gatherings

The Société Saint Jean Baptiste of Quebec invited the Acadians to their congress in 1880. A number of Acadians attended and decided to organize their own Acadian Convention the following year. Over the next 100 years, a number of gatherings were held.

The concerns of the Acadians on Prince Edward Island were shared by other Maritime Acadians. Between 1881 and 1890 Island Acadians met with their Maritime counterparts to examine their status and discuss the direction for their development. During this time, three conventions were held in Memramcook (New Brunswick), Miscouche (Prince Edward Island), and Church Point (Nova Scotia). The first meeting's purpose was voiced in a manifesto announcing the convention and read:

[It is] to cement the unity that is absolutely essential in order for French Acadians to assert themselves as a strong and dynamic people a friend of progress and serious concerned about its future. For too long we appear to have been ignored. [...] The time has come to assert our rights to a just equality that the straightforward and practical side of our conquerors will not be able to refuse much longer. [Arsenault, Georges. The Island Acadians 1720-1980, Ragweed Press, 2nd édition, 1999, p.155]

First Acadian Convention: 1881 - Memramcook, NB

The initial convention was attended by over 5000 Acadians, though only a few hundred actually participated in the discussions. Two hundred Acadians from Prince Edward Island attended. The meeting was held on July 20-21 at St. Joseph's College in Memramcock, NB.

Study sessions that were reserved for the delegates from each parish, members of the clergy, Acadian members of Parliament and other public figures. Delegates discussed every aspect of Acadian Life from French language and education to industry and national symbols. Topics included emigration, acadianization of the Church, journalism, education, colonization, agriculture, industry, trade, and politics. One of the topics was the selection of an Acadian holiday. The Acadians wanted their own distinct day rather than St. Jean Baptiste day (June 24) already a holiday for the Quebécois. With the guidance of Father Marcel-Francois Richard, they selected the day of the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary ... August 15. The Société Nationale l'Assomption was established as a quasi-governmental body for the Acadians.

Second Acadian Convention: 1884 - Miscouche, PEI

A second meeting took place on August 15, 1884 at Miscouche, PEI. In addition to other topics the main order of business was the selection of the national Acadian symbols. This convention chose an Acadian flag, an Acadian Hymn, a Motto and an Acadian emblem.

The blue-white-red French flag with a gold star in the upper left corner was chosen for the Acadian Flag. Father Richard had brought a flag already made to the convention.

For the hymn, the choice wasn't as easy. During the discussion, Father Richard began to sing Ave Maris Stella, and the whole convention joined in. When Father Richard then called for someone to create an anthem, Pascal Poirier suggested that they choose "Ave Maris Stella". The convention agreed.

The convention also selected an Acadian emblem to be worn on the lapel on holidays. It consisted of a blue silk embossed with a radiating star. Above the star was a ship in full sail with the word "Acadie" written on its flag. The motto, "L'union fait la force" (Strength through Union) was placed at the bottom. The emblem background was a rosette of white and red ribbons.

Third Acadian Convention: 1890 - Pointe de l'Église, NS

The major topic of the third convention was on the language used at Sainte Anne College, Acadian convents, and schools of Nova Scotia. They felt that French should be the language used in classes, but English should also be used.

The Acadian National Conventions created a connection between the Acadians in the Maritimes and aroused a spirit of nationalism and patriotism which continues to this day.

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