November 06, 2011
MONUMENT MARKS ANCESTORS EMIGRATION TO LOUISIANA
Published: Monday, October 10, 2011 at 11:29 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, October 10, 2011 at 11:29 a.m.
An international crowd gathered near the Bayou Terrebonne Waterlife Museum on Park Avenue in Houma Sunday to watch as organizers unveiled a new monument.
The cross and its accompanying map, which shows the emigration patterns of Acadians after they were expelled from Canada, is the first to be installed in the United States.
The ceremony was part of the Grand Reveil Acadien, or the Great Acadian Awakening, a 10-day French culture festival with events in four Louisiana cities.
There are 37 monuments in all. They were created by the Society of National of Affairs of Acadians and mark the landing places of those expelled by the Acadian Deportation.
The Acadians were forced out of eastern Canada when the British gained control of the Maritime Provinces during the French and Indian War. The original French settlers, the Acadians, were sent to the 13 colonies and France in the 1750s.
Over time, many of those moved to the American south, founding Acadian communities along the Mississippi and the bayous.
“The Acadians never forgot this history. How could they?” said Francoise Enguehard, president of the National Association of Acadians, during Sunday's dedication ceremony. “The objective of this monument is to remember, but also to reaffirm our nationhood.”
Thelma Babineau Richard, bearing an Acadian flag, was among those on hand for the unveiling. She traveled to south Louisiana as part of a delegation of 70 Canadians.
“These are our people. We share the same ancestry,” said Richard, who lives in Moncton, New Brunswick, Lafayette's twin city. “When we're here, we don't feel like we're in the United States.”
The unveiling ceremony drew Terrebonne Parish President Michel Claudet, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, and Jean-Claude Brunet, France's New Orleans-based consulate general.
The monument was meant to commemorate the hardships the group's Acadian ancestors had faced, but also to celebrate the exodus' contributions to the region's heritage.
“I know I don't have to tell you that Terrebonne means good earth,” Claudet told attendees. “It's fortunate that a group excluded from another place came here, to a land so full of bounty.”
Staff Writer Cara Bayles can be reached at 857-2204 or at firstname.lastname@example.org