The Acadian Families of Yesterday and Today
To think about the Acadian identity while studying the family names of yesterday and today.
Background information for the teacher
- In the context of an evolving Acadie, how should we view the Acadian identity? The aim of this activity is to get students to think, but also to have them use their own experience with Acadie to answer the question. There are no right or wrong answers to this activity.
- During the Deportation, Acadian families were driven out. Some successfully returned in the Atlantic Provinces. Others remained where they had been exiled, that is where they had fled to (like in Québec) or where they had been sent to (Poitou and Belle-Île-en-Mer in France, American colonies). Others, like the Oudy family, simply disappeared. Today, it is recognized that Acadie is in Atlantic Canada. The Acadian population faces contemporary realities that bring changes, like assimilation in to the Anglophone group, which is more numerous, or integration of new Francophone elements from the rest of Canada (Québec, Manitoba…), or elsewhere (France, Belgium, Africa, Asia,…). In this context, how can we define the Acadians? Have the student think about this question.
- The Oudy family: In 1758, during the Deportation, the Oudy family members embarked from île Saint-Jean isle (P.E.I.) on the Violet heading for France. The ship sank and the entire family disappeared. This fairly dramatic example shows to what extent the Deportation changed the face of Acadie. See the History section: The Duke William and the Violet and the Web site Francophonies canadiennes: Identités culturelles, Territoire et peuplement section: Destinée de trois familles déportées.
- Parks Canada has made list of Acadian pioneer families that is on display at the Grand-Pré National Historic Site of Canada. Our list for this exercise was based on that original list.
- A few days before starting this activity, ask the students to do their family tree. Note: consult the section Essential and optional resources to find all the elements necessary to complete this activity.
- Present the intended learning results.
- Present the proposed activity.
- Divide the class in groups of around four students each. Ask each group to complete a questionnaire:
- To answer the questionnaire, the students will need their family tree, as well as the list of families that were in Acadie / Nova Scotia in the 18th century, available in the Web site (see Essential and optional resources).
- Recall what was previously learned. Start-up question:
- Do you know your origin (Acadian, Irish, Quebecer…)?
- What is a family name, what's its purpose?
- What is identity?
- Do you think the Deportation has played a role in the evolution of Acadian identity?
- Make the students aware of the diversity of family names by going through the family names in your class.
- Necessary resources to complete this activity:
- Subject matter seen in class;
- List of Acadian pioneer family names;
- Family tree;
- Regional phone book.
- Additional information for the students:
- Certain family names on the list are spelled differently today. They will be easier to identify if you read them out loud (Barillot).
- Certain family names on the list are accompanied by a nickname (Cormier dit Rossignol), many of which have become family names (Basque, Gallant, Maurice).
- The students should have their own family tree up to their great-grandparents.
- During the activity, ask each group to answer the questionnaire.
- In a class discussion, share each group's questionnaire results. A few questions to help fuel the discussion:
- What did you notice when doing your own family tree?
- By dispersing the Acadians all along the Atlantic seaboard, did the Deportation influence the development of the Acadian identity? According to you, how?
- Today, how would you explain Acadian identity?
- Is it with the names of the pioneer families, whether they live in the Atlantic Provinces, Québec, France, Louisiana or elsewhere?
- Is it with the fact of being Francophone in the Atlantic Provinces (Grondin, Melun, Rutanga, Tremblay…)?
- What would you do with the families that are of Acadian descent but no longer speak French (certain Whites and Chaissons for example)?
- Can we have more than one identity/origin (families whose parents have different origins)?
- Try to draw out the students' personal experiences on this topic to fuel the discussion.
- Review the concepts of identity. Have the student personally define Acadian identity.
- Have the students become aware of what they have learned as well as the methods they used that led to this new knowledge (discussion, synthesis).
Essential and optional resources
- List of family names that were in Acadie / Nova Scotia in the 18th century (PDF | HTML)
- Family tree (PDF | HTML)
- Questionnaire (PDF | HTML)
- Phone book