Pèlerinage identitaire – Yves Doucet

« Papa, est-ce qu’on est Acadiens? », me demanda ma fille, il y a de cela quelques années. « Bien sûr », que je lui répondis. « Pourquoi? », renchérit-elle. Et s’ensuivit une explication condensée de la colonisation du territoire acadien, des guerres France-Angleterre, de la Déportation, du retour, de la Renaissance et de la modernité de l’Acadie (en moins de 10 minutes – disons qu’il manquait peut-être quelques détails). Elle sembla satisfaite de mon explication, mais je l’étais beaucoup moins qu’elle. Qu’est-ce que j’en pensais réellement? Ça veut dire quoi, être Acadien?

Il y a eu, récemment, bien des échanges à ce sujet. Rémi Godin a habilement cerné le problème dans L’ACADIE D’ASTHEURE. Jean-Marie Nadeau a livré son point de vue dans L’Étoile. L’Acadie Nouvelle a monté un dossier sur la question de l’identité acadienne en brayonnie. (Ma conscience : Heille, Yves, si le monde en parle déjà, pourquoi tu viens en rajouter?  Moi : Ta YEULE!)  À travers ces lectures, avec l’aide de discussions entre bons amis, j’en suis venu à me forger une définition de ce qu’est pour moi un Acadien. Quoiqu’elle risque de se modifier avec le temps, je tiens à l’articuler afin de mieux la saisir moi-même, et en souhaitant qu’elle provoque des réactions qui la feront évoluer.

Pour moi, un Acadien est a) un habitant des provinces de l’Atlantique qui participe à la vitalité francophone de sa région ou b) un expatrié qui correspondait, à un moment donné, à la définition en a). Donc, pour moi, un Acadien, c’est quelqu’un qui se scolarise en français, ou qui participe à la vie culturelle francophone (comme artisan ou comme consommateur), qui fait appel aux médias francophones… Mais attention, rien de tout ça n’est exclusif – un Acadien peut très bien aussi lire des journaux anglophones. Mais, il faut qu’une partie importante de sa vie se déroule en français, dans ce coin de pays. Ce faisant, cette personne, qu’elle le veuille ou non, donne toute sa signification à l’Acadie. Qu’en est-il, alors, des Louisianais? Ce ne sont pas des Acadiens, mais plutôt des Cajuns – ils ont leurs particularités sociales, historiques, linguistiques, qui les distinguent des Acadiens. Et les Québécois? On dit qu’ils seraient un million (deux?) de descendance acadienne. Eh bien, quoique ces gens aient des ancêtres Acadiens, ça ne fait pas d’eux des Acadiens (dans la même logique, un Dieppois né à Dieppe de parents originaires du Québec ne serait pas Québécois, mais Néo-Brunswickois). Il est à souhaiter que la découverte de ces racines donne le goût à ces gens de venir enrichir notre Acadie, mais en attendant, ils sont des cousins.

Aspect important de cette vision de l’Acadie : pas nécessaire d’être né ici pour en faire partie! Ils sont nombreux, les Acadiens d’adoption, ceux et celles venus d’ailleurs qui s’établissent chez-nous – chez-eux! – et font vibrer notre francophonie en l’enrichissant de la leur, voilà de vrais Acadiens. Bien plus, en tout cas, que les trop nombreux LeBlanc, Arsenault et Duguay de ce monde qui ne vivent qu’en anglais… Ce n’est d’ailleurs pas affaire de généalogie non plus. Des McIntyre, des Ward, des Smith – vous en connaissez autant que moi, des Acadiens aux patronymes anglais, écossais, irlandais… Mais, puisqu’ils sont ici, qu’ils vivent, chantent, magasinent, étudient, lisent, rêvent et jouent en français, eh bien, ils sont pleinement des nôtres!

Ma définition est inclusive en ce sens qu’elle identifie comme Acadiens des gens qui ne se nomment pas ainsi eux-mêmes. Par exemple, certains habitants du Madawaska – je sais qu’on en a déjà parlé ad nauseam, alors je ne m’éterniserai pas là-dessus – se disent Brayons, et non Acadiens. Pourtant, dans ma vision à moi, ils sont les racines mêmes de l’Acadie tout autant que les Noël de Lamèque, les LeBlanc de Moncton, les Doucet de Wedgeport, les Chaisson de Stephenville ou les Arsenault de Miscouche. Ce qui ne cesse de m’étonner, c’est que les gens tiennent à avoir une identité unique. Comme si on ne pouvait pas avoir diverses facettes à notre identité. Je suis à la fois Canadien, Néo-Brunswickois, Dieppois,  Acadien, père, fils, frère, ami, collègue, voisin… Aucune de ces identités ne vient se substituer aux autres – c’est un enrichissement.

 croix

Comme cette question d’identité acadienne continuait de me chicoter, j’ai entrepris, récemment, un pèlerinage familial à Grand-Pré. Ne vous méprenez pas, ma définition de l’Acadie est très contemporaine et je ne saurais tomber dans le piège du misérabilisme de la Déportation et d’une définition trop folklorique de ce qu’est l’Acadie. Toutefois, je crois que notre histoire a une valeur et je tenais à mettre les pieds là où on avait dit à mes ancêtres, il y a plus de 250 ans, qu’ils n’avaient pas d’affaire icitte! Ce fût un moment de grande émotion, tant pour moi que pour mon épouse et mes enfants. De voir nos noms et ceux de nos parents sur les plaques commémoratives des déportés, ça m’a donné le moton. D’être en ce lieu sacré en présence de mes enfants, c’était pour moi une façon de confirmer qu’on est encore là, et qu’on continue d’étendre nos racines…

« Papa, pourquoi on est Acadiens? »

« Je le sais pas pour les autres, ma grande, mais moi, je suis Acadien parce que quand j’ai vu la Croix de la Déportation, j’ai pleuré… »

yves doucetYves Doucet habite Dieppe. Originaire de Robertville, il fait partie des nombreux exilés du Nord vers le Sud. Enseignant de mathématiques et de sciences au secondaire, il se plaît (trop) à se laisser embarquer dans des débats aussi émotifs que rationnels.

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22 réponses à “Pèlerinage identitaire – Yves Doucet

  1. I concede only that their are many kinds of Acadian subgroups and individuals but please try to practice inclusion amongst all the Acadians of the world. Exclusion will dilute and destroy us as a people. Our destiny is not to recreate the past but to celebrate our survival which was made possible by our heroic ancestors. Who does not crave to be direct descendants of genuine heroes. I believe that it is fortunate that the Acadians of the Maritimes are neighbours with Canada’s only other Francophone people. It allows them to be close to their relatives , descendants of those forced to flee to Canada. You forget that Quebec’s Acadian population is very much alive and well. I meet on a quasi regular basis with many cultural and historical persons and groups all across the Maritimes and Quebec, we proudly refer to each other as Acadians first. We are proud to be part of the renaissance Acadiens
    If any one wonders why I write in English it is probably because of the mysterious grammar involved in writing in French. My primary education was not my choice to make.

  2. No one chooses to be or not to be Acadian although they do have the option of identifying with their historical heritage or not. Those who choose to identify with their historical heritage, (My ancestors history is part of my history) do so because they have immense pride in the achievements of their ancestors. We are really here (on this planet as a surviving people) because of the resilience they demonstrated against all odds. Their evolutionary experience had inadvertently prepared them for the worst calamity a people could face, genocide. To have survived such a severe mauling from the most powerful military machine the world had seen, makes absolute heroes of all of our ancestors. On lache pas la patate.

  3. If we practice exclusion of the decendants of acadian deportees from the acadian people,and preach that only new brunswickers are true acadians then we are deluded because political affilitation has never been part of the criteria of acadian identity.
    Yes we Gaspesiens have always felt to be acadians living within traditional acadian territory

    • Thank you for the comment, M. Gregoire. You’re not the first to mention the Gaspésien reality. I do realize that many Acadian descendants live in Gaspésie, and many probably feel a stronger affiliation with New Brunswickers than with the rest of their own province. My attention has also been drawn to Cajuns in Louisiana, and how connected they feel to us.

      Following those comments, I gave the issue more thought. However, I’ve come to the conclusion that I stand by my previous definition. You, like many others, may be of Acadian bloodlines, M. Grégoire. However, since you are not actively contributing to the vitality of French communities in Atlantic Canada, I still consider you as « of Acadian descent », or « friends of Acadians », but not as outright Acadians.

      Obviously, this is MY definition and is by no means of universal acceptance. If you define Acadians differently, that’s perfectly OK. I do, however, take issue with the following part of your comment: « political affilitation has never been part of the criteria of acadian identity. » Really? to my knowledge, there has never been any form of consensus, political or social, as far as Acadian identity criteria are concerned. I would counter that the overall tendancy has been to identify Acadians with the Atlantic provinces…

      Finally, moreso than territorial affiliation, I believe that active usage of the French language is an essential criterion of the Acadian identity…

      Thanks again for your comment.

  4. Merci pour vos bons mots. Je suis heureux de savoir que plusieurs s’y retrouvent. Mon texte a déjà entraîné des discussions qui pourraient me réévaluer certains aspects de ma « définition ». Par exemple: qu’en est-il de ces Gaspésiens qui se disent Acadiens? Ou des enfants des expatriés? Ça mijote, les amis. Ça mijote…

    • Why do you suggest that Acadians should be identified politically; so they can be controlled by politicians maybe. The secret of their survival is to shun the controlling aspects of political intrigue. Actually throughout their entire history they despised those who tried to control them. To them politics was always about empty promises. Politics is only a concern for their particular living arraignments , such as in which country they happen to reside in. It does not and should not have any effect on their common historical heritage, which is the true source of their origins, thus their identity. Their is always the danger of culture overshadowing history when it concerns the interpretation of ones historical heritage. Refusing to accept the fundamental fact that humans evolve to be part of their environments, and that we will evolve, not devolve . As for the French language it will always be an integral part of our shared historical heritage, even if some of us no longer use such a widely shared cultural element. I consider Cajuns to be equal in every respect to those descendants of the non deported. The French-English rivalry for economic control of Amerindian lands created the country-less people called Acadians. It had nothing to do with rights or justice and everything to do with greed. That is the reality as I see it.

    • I have to respond to your comments about New Brunswick being part of Acadian heritage. New Brunswick was incorporated by the English as a means to legitimise the economic exploitation of the territory. It did not recognize the legitimacy of the Acadian people at all and attempted to eradicate them. The only connection New Brunswick has with Acadians is that some of us reside there, just as some reside in other political entities. To declare that New Brunswick residency is part of being Acadian is to shit on the descendants of the deported. We must continue to resist political identity and focus on what we have in common. Acadian pride is not generated by anything contemporary but on the collective memory of our heroes.
      As for my commitment to making Acadian history known to all, I hope some day you will visit our local Interpretation centre situated at La Petite Rochelle on the Restigouche river.

      I consider myself to be Acadian because I am the son of Marie Antoinette Savoie, de William, de Napoléon, de Prosper, de Germain, de Joseph, de Joseph, de Germain, de Germain, de Francois, de Poitou en 1642..

      • Merci pour vos réflexions.

        We differ in our vision of what Acadians are today. You hold on to the bloodline definition, while I espouse a more contemporary, territorial and actually cultural (not in a historical, but in a « living it now » sense) definition. Nobody can whether either any one of us is right or wrong. But I deal daily with non-descendants of historical Acadians who are just as Acadian as I am, because they breathe life into our Acadie.

        Je ne crois pas que l’Acadie soive être politisée à outrance. Mais je continue de croire que ceux et celles qui ne font pas vivre, même un peu, la langue française, ou qui ne le font pas dans les provinces de l’Atlantique, ne sont pas réellement Acadiens. La descendance ne suffit pas, selon moi.

        • I guess we are similar in that we have a personal opinion on what constitutes Acadian identity. Historically their had rarely been consensus among the Acadians as to their future as a people. What they had in common during their evolution was a complete distrust of outsiders and especially the politics of foreign rulers. Since the slogan of the Acadian people is  »together their is strength » how can you so casually dismiss Those Acadian descendants who display so much pride in their Acadian historical heritage. You forget that those who were forced to live outside of their traditional homeland have memory’s also. I quote an elderly lady from New Zeeland, whom I had mistaken for an Australian ,  »No we are not, we are from New Zeeland and we are Acadians, Casey’s to be exact, We know where we are from, and how we got there. She proceeded to display her folder containing her family tree and beamed with pride. Who are you to tell her and her family that they are not Acadians.
          I believe that your idea of claiming that only your group of survivors are legitimate Acadians is divisive and has no place within the Acadian diaspora. Furthermore if anyone at all can claim to be Acadian it will eventually reward the English with the final disappearance of the Acadian people. My moto is » On lache pas la patate »

          • You are right on the spot Andre. This is what bugs me about the so called acadians of NB. It is just a  »clique » and you have to behave in a certain way if you want to be part of it, no matter who your ancestors were. They even go as far as having some  »construction identitaire » in the schools. In other words they want to fabricate or create acadians out of whoever wants to join them.

          • There are many methods of assimilation that can actually brainwash a human into believing anything, but none can deny ones historical heritage. When a people loses everything except their name, memories become very valuable baggage indeed. We feel tremendous pride in the accomplishments of our ancestors, and know that we are still here because of their determination and resolve in resisting a very serious aggression by the worlds military super-power of the time. To us they were all heroes, why or how can we forget that theirs was a struggle for survival not glory.

          • I worked in the tourism industry for thirty years and I met many Acadians from all over the world. They all have a very similar attitude and ask generally the same questions. They are very curious about anything Acadian, and want to know everything they can about their ancestors and their traditional homeland. In short they are searching for their roots. They certainly feel very emotional when discussing any subject on their historical heritage. I discovered my heroic Acadian ancestry while doing research to answer all those questions. The flame of that identity was obviously rekindled in my heart. I became a worthy person because I was so proud of the incredible struggle of our ancestors when I realised that I was alive and breathing because of their efforts and determination. I am not the only Acadian who has zero confidence in politics. Politics is only useful if it can be used against the establishment to obtain rights and freedom. No Acadian identity does not depend on any political establishment anywhere. Many New Brunswickers would like to be rid of the Acadians and their French language, we see it all the time in the news papers. I have news for the establishment , when one loses the use of their ancestral language through no fault of their own, it does not automatically rob them of their historical heritage and source of pride. Any person has the right to embrace or hide their Acadian roots and identity , but no one has the right to deny that right to direct descendants of the survivors of that calamity. We are here because of them… On lache pas la patate

          • M. Cormier, vous n’avez clairement aucune idée de ce que nous faisons dans les écoles. Au lieu de parler à travers votre chapeau, vous viendrez faire un tour, je vous apprendrai comment on accompagne les élèves dans le développement de leurs identités. C’est loin d’être l’indoctrination que vous supposez, et ce sont probablement vos postures conspirationnistes répétitives qui vous font sentir en marge de « la clique ». Pôvre victime…

          • M. Grégoire, I’m not dismissing the descendants of Acadians, I’m just making a distinction between a) those who have bloodline which tie them to historical Acadians, and b) those who contribute, today, to what I see as l’Acadie. There is, obviously, a significant overlap between these two groups. I am myself a descendant of deported Acadians, and also actively contribute to the Acadian society.

            As I state in the above text, I obviously do not have license over what are Acadians. I do, however, feel that contributing to the francophone life of the Atlantic provinces of Canada is what makes a modern Acadian, I don’t « shit » on other descendants of Acadians, such as yourself, but I do see a distinction.

            Funny how you accuse me of wanting to « politicize » Acadian identity, yet you’re the one who goes on about governments, homelands and outsiders…

          • One of the differences between our version of Acadian identity is that my version includes all those who have a common origin, ancestral territory, and much pride in simply knowing that they are descendants of a worthy and heroic people. They collectively posses no physical or political territory. Their continued existence is a direct reflection of their very stubborn character. They refuse to give in to those who want them to simply disappear. If I renounce my Acadian historical heritage, it automatically makes me disappear along with the crime committed against my ancestors . No victim no crime, Eh! . I cannot and will not be a traitor to who I see as my people. The Acadians are not the only country-less people and if they had one they would be open to attack wouldn’t they.
            Your version is cool too, but is nevertheless unofficial, and it excludes the vast majority of Acadians who now reside outside of their traditional territory. As for the French culture in Acadians, don’t worry, their are more than a million living with the Quebecois next door. You speak of an Acadian community not of an Acadian people.
            You can be part of my version but it is impossible for me to be part of yours even though I was born in Campbellton,N B. It is a fact that their are several Acadian subgroups, even in New Brunswick, will you now separate those for being impure because they live in Madawaska, where three distinct political entities were imposed on them. Your version excludes those in the U S A and Quebec.

  5. J’étais là quand ont a installé la croix et comme toi le moton et la goutte à l’oeil sont venus de façon spontanés. Faut pensé avenir mais ne jamais oublié le passé puisque c’est grâce a eux si nous sommes encore là…malgré le génocide. Je suis en paix avec l’histoire et je tiens à la faire connaître à tous ceux que je rencontre et qui ont un intérêt pour notre acadie.

    • The flame that is kindled in the soul of Acadians that discover their historical heritage can swiftly and forcefully re-ignite, even after several generations. Once it is re-lit it in inextinguishable.

  6. Je trouve votre témoignage très touchant! C’est aussi ça être Acadiens ou Acadiennes, c’est de pouvoir exprimer fièrement et avec émotion son appartenance à un peuple, n’est-ce pas? Merci!

  7. Je suis flatté d’être parmi les premiers à commenter ton article Yves. Je sais qu’on a souvent de bonnes discussions musclées dans l’incubateur et je tiens à te dire que j’ai bien aimé ton récit. Tu devrais peut-être songer à organiser des discussions  »live » quelque part à Moncton ou Dieppe. Ça risquerait d’être intéressant 😉

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