mardi 11 septembre 2007

Hub City

A little about where I now live--Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada.

This city is the epicenter of today's Acadian heritage. This may come as a surprise to you who think immediately of Nova Scotia as the heartland. Historically, Port Royal was the capital of Acadia before the deportation. That fort is where at least the Chaillou branch of my family lived and died. After its seizure and transformation into Annapolis Royal and the foundation of Halifax, the Acadians were no longer in Nova Scotia, the anglo title for Acadie.

When Acadians returned, they settled in what is today New Brunswick. After a "renaissance" in the late 19th century and the foundation of Collège Saint Joseph (today's Université de Moncton), Moncton became the hub for the patrimony.

This being said, the city of Moncton is like a bilingual Houma, although with a lot more energy. The downtown area is vibrant with restaurants, entertainment, interesting architecture, etc. The rest of the city is variously consumerist, collegiate, and high tech. These facts are nothing particularly interesting--the real asset of this city is her people and their interactions.

The first restaurant Linda and I ate at in Canada was a Mediterranean restaurant called Graffiti on Main Street. The hostess told us "Assiez-vous n'importe où." From then on, we were addressed variously in English and in French. At the table next to us, a party of eight typified the linguistic schizophrenia, as each person ordered in her language of choice.

Of course, at the university, everything is in French. Although at the library, I did overhear a conversation between two students: "Tu vas aller au concert ce vendredi?" "Ouais, ça va êt' right la fun!" This is a dialect calle Chiac, which does to French what the Cajuns do to English.

The Acadians remain a vibrant, enduring minority in Moncton--a far cry from the assimilated Cajuns of Houma. The Acadian flag is ever-present, French is partout. There are artists, poets, novelists, essayists, academics, and politicians all fighting to preserve an identity so ingrained in a people, that it doesn't matter whether they physically remember the deportation 250 years ago. These people have ammunition against assimilation.

In a way, it is because they are surrounded by anglo-mania. Signs, government, and the US aside, the Acadians are a minority in Acadia. But they've persisted and show no signs of dying out, of losing their language, their literary tradition, their music, or their faith.

Best of all, the last names of all the luminous figures in Moncton have the last names LeBlanc, Chiasson, Boudreau, Arsenault, Theriault, and Forêt.

2 commentaires:

laura lynn a dit…

Fantastique!

Charles a dit…

what kind of city is that! no Trahans or Landrys