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Le Vent du Nord‘s Lettre à Durham with Julie Fowlis, in Glasgow

Le Vent du Nord‘s Lettre à Durham

Le Grand Dérangement: the Expulsion of Acadians

A discussion of the concept of anamnesis could take us to Plato but it also leads to Canada and, more precisely, to both provinces of New France: Acadie and the current Quebec.

In an earlier article, October 1837, I wrote that the deportation (1755) was cruel. It deprived 11,500 Acadians of their home, and exiles were put pêle-mêle aboard ships that sailed in different directions, including England and France. Families were divided. “Approximately one-third perished from disease and drowning.″ (See Acadians, Wikipedia.) Some sailed down Britain’s Thirteen Colonies and walked from Georgia to Louisiana. They are the Cajuns of Louisiana. Some exiles returned to Acadie, but not to their farms.

Antonine Maillet’s Pélagie-la-Charrette

Errance et Résistance, an article, is my reading of Antonine Maillet‘s Pélagie-la-Charrette (1979). The novel is an anamnèse. Pélagie is a deported Acadian walking back to Acadie with other deportees using a charrette, a cart. When the group reaches Acadie, they exclaim: la terre rouge, a reference to the biblical mer Rouge, the Red Sea. The soil is rouge, which may result from the huge tides of the Bay of Fundy (from fendu, split). Pélagie-la-Charrette earned Antonine Maillet the Prix Goncourt 1979 (France).

The Bay of Fundy (fendu)
The Bay of Fundy (fendu) between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and inside Nova Scotia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lord Durham’s Report

In 1838, George Lambton, 1st Earl of Durham was sent to the two Canadas to investigate the Rebellions of 1837-1838. In his report, he depicted French Canadians as culturally inferior to English Canadians. Although it was not the grand dérangement, Lord Durham’s Report was humiliating. French-speaking Canadians did not have a history and lacked a literature. French Canadians quickly built a literary homeland: la Patrie littéraire, which was an anamnesis.

Comme bien des Britanniques de l’époque, Lord Durham est convaincu que les valeurs et les politiques anglaises sont supérieures à celles des autres nations et qu’en les appliquant, une société est vouée à la prospérité. À l’opposé, il considère les Canadiens francophones comme étant un peuple sans histoire et sans littérature. [As did many Britons in his time, Lord Durham believed English values and policies were superior to those of other nations and that a society putting these into practice was bound to prosper. Contrarily, he looked upon francophone Canadians as a people without a history and without a literature.]   

Le Rapport Durham | Alloprof

These were inebriating days for Britain’s Empire. What does the Sun Never Sets On The British Empire Mean? – WorldAtlas. In his Report, Lord Durham recommended that the two Canadas be united, which led to the Act of Union of 1841. Lord Durham’s Report was humiliating. It was hoped that the Act of Union would lead to an assimilation of French-speaking Canadians. You will hear the words: à genoux, on their knees and cicatrices (scars). However, after the two Canadas were united, Robert Baldwin (1804-1858) and Sir Louis-Hyppolite LaFontaine (1807-1864) built a government for a bilingual Canada with a responsible government. Then came Confederation (1867). Its precedent was Durham’s Report, not the Canada envisaged by Baldwin and LaFontaine.

Matters have changed. The Patrie littéraire, an anamnesis, was successful. However, during the 1960s, terrorists, the Front de libération du Québec (the FLQ) killed and maimed, but they ceased to be active after the October Crisis of 1970. Pierre Vallières (1938-1998) published Les Nègres blancs d’Amérique (The White Niggers of America) in 1968, but he had killed as a member of the FLQ. During the 1960s the Felquistes (FLQ) put bombs in mailboxes and other locations. Vallières converted. It was a troubled decade.

There are ups and downs, les hauts et les bas, but we live peacefully.


Sources and Resources
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Love to everyone 💕
I had to modify this article. I have been suffering from mental fatigue and my memory fails me.

© Micheline Walker
11 March 2021