New Heritage Minute focuses on dark history of the Acadian Expulsion

Heritage Canada has released its newest Heritage Minute focusing on the Acadian Deportation. Heritage Canada

The newest Canadian Heritage Minute is out and it pays tribute to a dark piece of Canadian history known as the Acadian Expulsion.

The release of the video on Thursday will have special significance. August 15 marks National Acadian Day — a day to celebrate Acadian culture — in Canada.

The Acadians were descendants of early French settlers who developed a new culture and set of customs over many generations. They would come to call themselves Acadians to distinguish themselves from new French settlers and distance themselves from the French Crown.

But in 1755, Acadians, who had arrived in Nova Scotia more than 150 years earlier, were told that the British Crown was confiscating the land and possessions.

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“The story of the Acadian Expulsion is often overlooked in our history,” said Anthony Wilson-Smith, president and CEO of Historica Canada.

“We’re proud to share this with Canadians, and to enhance awareness of their story.”

The ensuing deportation lasted eight years as British soldiers rounded up civilians, burning homes and crops in an effort to forcibly remove more than 10,000 Acadians from the Maritimes.

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Despite their unique and separate identity from the French Crown, Acadians continued to be targeted as tensions escalated between French and British ahead of the Seven Years War.

Many were sent to the American colonies and England, while others led resistances and fled to New France.

By 1763, Acadians would be allowed to return to their homelands on the conditions that they live in small communities and pledge loyalty to the British Crown.

The communities that formed still dot the Maritime landscape to this day and Acadian cultural traditions continue to endure.

The Heritage Minute released on Thursday was filmed in the Annapolis Royal, N.S. — the site of the intial Acadian settlement — and Canning, N.S., on some of the beaches where deportations actually occurred.

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The short was produced by Historica Canada and Fifth Town Films, written and directed by Tess Girard with Acadian filmmaker Phil Comeau consulting on the script.

Acadian author Antonine Maillet provides the end narration, and Acadian singer-songwriter Julie Doiron recorded the vocals in the music.

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