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The Acadians are a group of people who descended from French colonists. This group of people occupied Acadia in the 17th century the now New France colony comprising of New Brunswick, Maine, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Today, majority of Quebecois and Acadians speak French despite the fact that Canadians Acadia was colonized by New France which by then was administratively and physically distinct from French colony (James 198). This is the reason why Quebecois and Acadians have two different and distinct cultures and histories. After being forced out of their land by the British in 16th century, most Acadians went and settled in Cajuns. Nevertheless, despite not occupying their original territory, the spirit of Acadia still exists among those people living in Nova Scotia and this is evident through their cultures, customs, language, music, crafts, history and food. Acadian culture in painting, dancing, handicrafts, cinema, literature, theatre and music began back in the year 1950s and 1960s. Acadians remained isolated culturally because they were sidelined by both economical and geographical factors (Faragher 118). The Acadians had little contact with the outside world. This however helped them in preserving their ancestral cultures, cuisine, speech and oral traditions such as legends, stories and songs. However things changed for this group of people in mid-20th century. This paper mainly analyzes the major culture of Acadians in Cape Breton in Nova Scotia Canada.
There exists an old saying stating that Acadians people are born with songs and music which is believed to be running in their veins and fingertips (Jobb 100). The Acadians who lived in the previous generations left several instruments to proof the saying. The current generation has also continued to shine in music and songs. Some of the famous and notable musicians and singers with Acadian origin and hailed from Nova Scotia include: Arthur LeBlanc, Eugene Lapierre, Benoit Poirier, Paul Saulnier, Philip d’Eon, Kenneth Saulnier, Johnny Aucoin, Elio LeBlanc Donald Deschenes, Charlotte Cormier, Laura Gaudet, Anna Malenfant and Roland Gauvin among many others.
Today, young singers from Acadia have continued to compete and win many awards in both France and Quebec. Recently, Acadian parishes in Nova Scotia managed to compose and support a good church choir which presented the nation. In the past, brass band was common among earlier school boys in Nova Scotia for example among those who were in Sainte-Anne College and Saint-Joseph College. Today, singing is a key activity in schools located in Nova Scotia. There is choral for the Acadian society which has done well in recording songs. Several baroque music festivals are held in Nova Scotia yearly which shows their passion for music (Jobb 101).
The most known Acadian cuisine is hot redpepper seasoning which comprise of several styles blended together. The Acadians in Nova Scotia inherited their provincial style of cooking from France where they originated from. The Acadians designed their own techniques for cooking armadillo, turtle, raccoon, alligator and possum. These are some of the meals that were taken in the past and some people still prefer them today. The Acadians have a special talent in storing food to last for a long period of time. They can dry beans, smoke sausages, mill rice and cure ham. The most notable and fashionable cuisine today in Nova Scotia is beans and rice, crawfish and gumbo. Just like in the past, Acadians still serve these meals with cornbread. Today, Acadian cooking is greatly influenced by Native American cultures, Spanish cuisine, German cuisine, French cuisine, Anglo-American cuisine and Afro-Caribbean cuisine.
Troupe Notre-Dame de Grace, the first theatre to be established in Acadia by Laurie Henri the year 1956 was fully equipped. The theatre was later renamed to Le Theatre Laurie Henri after Henri’s death in 1981. Theatrical activity acted as a source of living for most proficient bands and groups in Acadia such as L’Escaouette theatre and Théâtre Populaire d’Acadie. These two theatres gave the young Acadian playwrights in Nova Scotia the chance to develop and validate their talents (Griffiths 142).
In 1975, Jules Boudreau was the best known actor in Acadian theatres. He did much of his acting in Caraquet theatre. In 1984, Hermenegilde Chiasson became the most prominent actor in Acadia concentrating his major works in Escaouette theatre. He presented several plays to schools which reconnoitered the actual fantasy in the adolescents and children realm. Other major and notable authors who performed in Acadian theatres were Clarence Comeau (1978), Raynond LeBlanc (1979), Marcel Theriault (1983) and Gerald LeBlanc (1983).Today, Acadian theatre remains active. There are many actors who still perform in these theatres to encourage vitality among the people.
Mardi Gras which is celebrated at the beginning of Lent period and a day before Ash Wednesday is a culture that was adapted from Europeans. During the olden days, this event included reversals of social order in the society whereby people were to disguise themselves by transforming their identity and pretending to be other party. Later on gifts were exchanged among the people to commemorate the day. However today, the story is not the same though the people of Acadia still conduct celebrations on this particular day.
The people living in Nova Scotia celebrate the feast of Assumption on August 15 every year. This feast day which is celebrated nationally was adopted from the First Acadian National Convention which was held in 1881 in Memramcook (Griffiths 201). On this day, all the people are expected to dress up in cloths with Acadian colors and they are expected to be noisy. Every December 13 is Acadian Remembrance Day whereby they commemorate the death of Duke William and the lives of 2000 Acadians who were perished from drowning and hunger in the year 1758.
Economic and Employment Culture
In the past, the Acadians were majorly ranchers, farmers and herders. There are those people who also worked as blacksmiths, carpenters, trappers, sealers, coopers, traders, shipbuilders and fishermen. They learnt these skills from regional Indians. These cultures are still in existence today; industrialization and civilization has not managed to do away with them. Nova Scotia is still a home whereby hunting and trapping take place. These activities are the major source of living for the Acadian people in Nova Scotia. However, due to industrialization, there are those people who have managed to secure jobs in the industries which act as their source of living. Despite the employments, some people still prefer doing fishing and hunting for leisure when they are free (Hodson 120).
In conclusion, the spirit of Acadia still exists among those people living in Nova Scotia and this is evident through their cultures. The Acadian cultures such as music, theatre, economic and employment, holidays and cuisine mainly began in 1950s and 1960s. Some of these cultures are still in place today and the people of Acadia still value them.
Hodson, Christopher. The Acadian Diaspora: An Eighteenth-Century History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. Print.
Jobb, Dean. The Acadians: A People’s Story of Exile and Triumph. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2005. Print.
Faragher, Mack. A Great and Noble Scheme: The Tragic Story of the Expulsion of the French Acadians from their American Homeland. New York: W. W. Norton, 2005. Print.
James, Laxer. The Acadians: In Search of a Homeland. Canada: Doubleday Publishers, 2006. Print.
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Griffiths, Naomi. From Migrant to Acadian: a North American border people, 1604–1755. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2005. Print.
Griffiths, Naomi. The Acadian Deportation: Deliberate Perfidy or Cruel Necessity? Toronto: Copp Clark, 2008. Print.