Acadians and Using Language Politics to Avoid Speeding Tickets
Like most well informed Québécois passionate about North American Francophonie, I know just about nothing about the Acadians.
Acadie is a State of Mind of a Nation of about half a million French-speaking people spread around at least five canadian provinces and a couple of american states who’s history and culture is completely different from Québec’s. They came over from a different part of France at a different time in history and are extremely proud about their distinct heritage. The Québécois don’t know or care about this and just assume they’re some families from Beloeil who got lost on their way to Cape Cod.
In that way, Acadie is to Québec what Canada is to the United States.
All I know about Acadie I learned from my sister who figured out she could skip Cegep and graduate a year early by going to the Université de Moncton, the only major French language university in Canada outside Québec.
(Here’s another cool Acacheat: Because New-Brunswick is Canada’s only officially billingual province police officers must address you in the official language of your choice, but a significant number of Anglo cops don’t actually speak French. Next time you are pulled over for speeding in NB, politely but firmly demand to speak French and the the policeman will legally be obligated to radio in a colleage to give you your ticket. He is more likely to let you off with an (English) warning.)
My sister spent five years living among the Acadians, learning their stories and their language, Shiak, a blend of French and English. (Which, of course, is completely different from Québec’s Joual which is a mix of English in French). She also learned the difference between an Acadian and a Brayon and the strange diet of this strange place wher poutine has nothing to do with cheese and gravy.
She told me about how there weren’t many Québécois at the Université de Moncton except for hockey players on scholarships. Apparently Acadians can’t skate. Who knew? There were a lot of Franco-Canadians from other provinces, however. Many militant Francos who wanted to study in French but were extremely bitter over Québec wanting to separate from Canada and the Québécois’ tendency to treat French culture outside their province as moribund, or, in the words of author Yves Beauchemin, as a still warm corpse. Francos from the strangest places–Yukon and a village in Alberta eight hours north of Edmonton–travelled thousands of miles to Moncton specifically because they didn’t want to study in Québec.
There were also kids from France, Gabon, Mali and Luxemburg and today, even though Moncton is still a mostly English-speaking town, most immigrants and newcomers are part of the French-speaking community. That’s Acadia succeeding where Québec still struggles.
At my sister’s graduation the valedictorian was an algerian Berber who’s life as an emmigrant had actually started in Glasgow. (You can just imagine the scene when he arrived in New-Brunswick and some bureaucrat decided he couldn’t possibly be speaking English because of his scottish accent and sent him to French school.) To this day he wears an Acadian flag pin–a France flag with a yellow star in the corner–on his vest when he teaches math at the École de Technologie Supérieure engineering school in Montreal.
Oh Yeah… just about every single one of my sister’s acadian friends are now living in Montréal because it turns these militant Francos figured out you can’t work in French anywhere except in Québec.
Respect Acadie. Nous Vaincrons.
Check out the Acadian National Congress, on now.