Acadians, as we know, are a French-Canadian people who settled at Port Royal, Nova Scotia, in 1605 (replica above) and intermarried with the Native people, primarily Mi’kmaq. They were expelled from Canada by the British in 1755 and set adrift, winding up literally dispersed to the winds, landing in various places in the US, Europe and in the Caribbean, before they congregated in Louisiana and became known as Cajuns.
A group of about 900 of these displaced people, now refugees with nothing to their name, arrived in Maryland, a Catholic colony, and spent several years living there, many trying to make their way back to Canada. With the end of the war in 1763, these Acadians desperately wanted to settle among their own people. Some did return to Canada, but the rest found their way to Louisiana, the last group leaving in 1769.
Marie Rundquist, an Acadian descendant and founder of the Amerindian – Ancestry Out of Acadia DNA project, lobbied for 2 years for a sign commemorating this forgotten episode in Acadian and Maryland history.
Marie says, “One of my personal goals is to assign dignity to the heritage that I have learned is truly mine. To have a sign like this brings an Acadian history into the mainstream, and recognizes a people whose ancestry has not always been held in the highest esteem, and whose integral role in early American history has been largely dismissed by traditional scholars.
That the DNA of Native Americans of Canada rolled into Louisiana, and other parts of the United States, by way of this diaspora is at the heart of the Amerindian Ancestry out of Acadia project. The British didn’t pick and choose among whom they would toss into the Ocean…all went; it mattered not if your family had been in the area 150 years or 18,000!”
On July 28th, 2013, on the day of the Acadian Memorial and Remembrance, when Acadians around the world recall the expulsion of 11,000+ Acadians from Nova Scotia in 1755, Marie celebrated by unveiling the sign in Princess Anne, Maryland. Way to go Marie!!!
To read more about Marie’s activities, DNA projects and Acadian research, click here.