La Petite Souvenance

Number 19, July 2005 Edition
Commemorative Edition
250th Anniversary of the Deportation of the Acadiens
1755 - 1763

In early 1755 the Acadian Deputies were summoned to Halifax by Governor Lawrence and ordered to swear an oath of allegiance to the British Crown. This they refused to do, contending, as they had with Cornwallis in 1749, that if they did so the French would set the Indians against them and they would be massacred. The English lost no time in responding. Colonel Robert Monckton rounded up the Acadians in Chignecto, while Colonel John Winslow ordered those at Minas to assemble at Grand Pré. They were loaded into the holds of ships and scattered to the four corners of the world. Families were separated, never to see one another again, and untold numbers died in transport.

The Mi'kmaq faithfully stuck by their Acadian allies to the bitter end. Some of the Acadians tried to escape and were aided and protected by the Mi'kmaq to the best of their ability. The Mi'kmaq also joined forces with them to drive back the British, as was reported by the French Governor:

“The British burned the Village, including the Church at Chipoudy and was responded to thus. Mr. Boishebert, at the head of 125 Indians and Acadians, overtook them at the River Pelkoudiak, attacked and fought them for three hours, and drove them vigorously back to their vessels. The English had 42 killed and 45 wounded. Mr. Gorham, a very active English Officer, was among the number of the wounded. We lost 1 Indian, and had three others wounded.”

Many Acadians went into hiding among the Mi'kmaq and remained with them until the British and French ended their hostilities in 1763. A group of several hundred were hidden by the Mi'kmaq in the area known today as Kejimkujik National Park. The Expulsion order was almost universal. Even individuals who had sworn allegiance to the British Crown and been promised the right to live peacefully in their ancestral homes were included. Professor Jeffery Plank, University of Cincinnati, states:

“Everyone involved understood the conflict to be a race war.... During the 1750s the politics of Nova Scotia centered on issues of national identity. At various times during the decade, the British engaged in combat with several different peoples who inhabited, or passed through, Nova Scotia: The Micmac, the French ... and the Acadians.... The British governors of Nova Scotia generally believed that they were surrounded by enemies, that the Acadians, the Micmac and the French would soon find a way to cooperate and overthrow British rule. One of the principle aims of British policy, therefore, was to keep these people separated, to isolate the Micmac, the Acadians, and the French. To achieve this goal of segregation, the colonial authorities adopted two draconian policies. In 1749 the governor began offering bounties for the scalps of Micmac men, women and children. The aim of this program was to eliminate the Micmac population on the peninsula of Nova Scotia, by death or forced emigration. In 1755 the British adopted a different but related strategy: it deported the Acadians, and relocated them in safer colonies to the west. Viewed in the abstract, these two programs, to pay for the deaths of the Micmac and to relocate and absorb the Acadians, represented very simple thinking. The colonial authorities who endorsed these programs placed the inhabitants of Nova Scotia into two categories, Europeans and savages, and treated them accordingly.”

In retrospect, I don’t believe that the Mi’kmaq and Acadiens could have ever escaped their fate. The paranoia and racism harboured by the British would never have permitted it. Today, the Acadiens have in hand a half-hearted apology from the Crown for the horrors committed against their ancestors. However, the Crown stubbornly refuses to apologize for the horrors committed against the Mi’kmaq by Governors Edward Cornwallis and Charles Lawrence. Cornwallis, as the record witnesses, attempted Genocide, yet he is still widely honoured. A blot on this society that no descent human being can ever defend.

Pennsylvania Gazette, September 4, 1755.

“We are now upon a great and noble Scheme of sending the neutral French out of this Province, who have always been secret Enemies, and have encouraged our Savages to cut our Throats. If we effect their Expulsion, it will be one of the greatest Things that ever the English did in America; for by all Accounts, that Part of the Country they posses, is as good Land as any in the World: In case therefore we could get some good English Farmers in their Room, this Province would abound with all kinds of Provisions.”

Click http://www.danielnpaul.com/AGreatAndNobleScheme.html to read more about A Great and Noble Scheme.

Daniel N. Paul


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