Sunday, 30 January 2022

The calm between the storms. Learning about Acadia from listening to Desert Island Discs.

When we went for a walk yesterday we joked that we really needed heavy boots to hold us down and prevent us from being blown away. That’s how strong the wind felt. This was apparently Storm Malik. I heard later that the storm killed a couple of people. Here we just had lots of branches broken off trees. 

Today by contrast dawned quietly and calmly. When I went out for a run the world felt completely still. It was also very bright and clear - blue sky and sunshine! Very nice! By lunchtime the clouds had moved back in and the weather forecast has just informed me that there will be winds of up to 90 miles an hour in the north of the country. And it’s not even February, let alone March! 

Sunday morning usually finds us listening to Desert Island Discs. Apart from presenter Lauren Laverne’s inability to say the letter “t” (something that makes me wince slightly whenever she says “twen’y first cen’ury”) it’s almost always very interesting. It’s worth listening to for the theme music alone. 

Today it was the turn of journalist Lise Doucet, whose clipped tones we have often heard on reports from problem areas of the world. It turns out her accent is Acadian; she is from New Brunswick in Canada. Wikipedia tells me she is has Acadian, Irish and Micmac ancestry. I have long thought I could hear some Irish in her accent, by the way. The Micmac (some sources say Migmaw) are apparently one of the Canadian First Nations. She’s got quite a mixed heritage then!

At one point she expressed her lifelong love of learning and explained that she regards journalism as a continuation of the same process. Everywhere she goes, she learns something. As for me, listening to Lise Doucet led to me learning something new this morning. I had long known that the Cajun people of Louisiana get the name Cajun from a mispronunciation of Acadian, Acadia being a French province long ago. What I didn’t know was that the province of Acadia was originally the French colony on the Atlantic coast of North America in what is now the Maritime Provinces of Canada. I had to go and look it up.

During the various wars and arguments between France and England over the ownership of Canada, Acadia ended up “belonging” to Britain. Many inhabitants of Acadia, suspected of fighting on the French side against Britain were expelled from the province, many ending up in Louisiana. There you go! In later years many original Acadians returned to  Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. And in 2003 Queen Elizabeth II issued a royal proclamation apologizing for the forced deportation of the Acadians. 

The fact remains that the Acadians lost their lands. My research shows me that the Micmac people also had their lands stolen - the regular story of the First Nations. Lise Doucet has travelled all over the world and said that she once pleased a lot of Acadian fans by declaring, “They never gave us back our lands but I regard my work as a journalist as a kind of Acadian Revenge”. Those are not, I hasten to say, her exact words.

Interesting stuff!

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

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