The Acadians (French: Acadiens ) are the descendants of French settlers from the Poitou, Brittany and Normandy, who had settled in the 17th century, especially in the coastal areas of the former French colony of Acadia. This territory was situated in northeastern North America region and comprised roughly the area of ​​present-day Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Iceland and the northern part of the U.S. state of Maine.


Both Acadian and Québec are counted among the French Canadians. Nevertheless, they have yet formed their own and very specific cultures over time. This was due to their spatial separation, other geographic conditions in their respective areas of settlement, but above all a very different historical development of these two ethnic groups. While Quebeckers after the conquest of Canada by the British suffered a relatively mild British colonial rule only, the Acadians were uprooted in 1755 by the then- current exceptionally hard deportation measure of British military authorities from their historic homeland territory. Only a minority of Acadians succeeded afterwards in the course of decades again to return to the historic Acadia. Their settlements are found there today in some remote areas of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Iceland, in the north and east of New Brunswick, on the south coast of belonging to the province of Québec Gaspésie Peninsula, as well as to the which also belongs to Quebec Magdalen Islands and in extreme north of the U.S. state of Maine.

The majority of the Acadians, however, was scattered after 1755 in a worldwide diaspora: Many found a new home in the Quebecois heartland along the St. Lawrence River or they verschlug in the country of origin of their ancestors, to France. Others came in the following decades in the then Spanish colony of Louisiana, where they today as Cajuns - a corruption of (A) cadiens - are known.


After the dramatic events of the 18th century, the Acadians first disappeared for a century apparently the mists of history. As a result of the deportation measures them living conditions had been imposed, the offered them no opportunities to make themselves felt in the public perception. And neither the French nor the Canadian literature was picked up their fate at this time. Only in the course of the 19th century there was a Acadian Renaissance, with which the Acadians and their tragic story more engaged in the public consciousness again. A major impetus for this development came from the publication of the poem Evangeline (1847 ) by the American Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. In this work, the Acadian expulsion trauma was discussed and with the fictional heroine Evangeline a tragic figure of identification was created. The expulsion of 1755 still serves as a negative founding myth of the Acadian people.

Settlement areas

The Atlantic- Canadian Acadians today are predominantly located in the northern and eastern coastal regions of New Brunswick, and in particular of the Acadian Peninsula and its offshore islands Miscou and Lameque. Other major Acadian settlements are the upper valley of the Saint- Jean River (French Fleuve Saint- Jean), the southern coast of the Gaspé Peninsula, the Magdalen Islands and the north coast of the St. Lawrence River (French Basse- Côte- North ). Numerous other Acadians live scattered in all parts of the province of Quebec, most of it ( well over a million ) amid the Quebecois main settlement area in the valley of the St. Lawrence River. Relatively closed, but small Acadian regions still exist in the south-western coastal areas of Prince Edward Iceland ( to the places Abram -Village and Mont- Carmel ) and Nova Scotia ( the coast near the so-called French shore between Digby and Yarmouth ), and in southeast and northwest ( to Chéticamp ) on Cape Breton Island.

With the onset of industrialization then emigrated many Acadians from their home areas in the English-speaking regions of the Canadian Atlantic provinces, especially in the south and west of New Brunswick. Like many immigrant Quebeckers many Acadians from looking for work opportunities eventually in the U.S. states of New England. Due to the different language environment, their scattered settlement patterns and the lack of French-language public educational institutions, these migrants have now been assimilated to a large extent by their new environment. In the English-speaking areas of the French has since been superseded in many families as their language from English, especially in the younger generations.

The descendants of the Acadians, which after 1764 - but mainly in 1785 - had settled in the southwestern area of ​​today the U.S. state of Louisiana, were formed there by a decades- long cultural transformation process to a new ethnic group, the Cajuns. In their settlement area, they have exerted a formative and lasting cultural influence. This region of Louisiana is now called Acadiana (or even Cajun Country ), the Cajuns make here the majority of the population. This was done in 1921 banning the French language and more Assimilierungszwänge have contributed to an extensive anglicization of the Cajuns. This trend was not reversed by the official recognition took place in the 60s of the 20th century, the French is now used only by a minority of the Cajuns as a spoken language.

Also in Europe today still traces of the Acadian diaspora. For the Acadians who had been repatriated by the British to France, several settlement projects were planned and partially carried out by the French Government. Most of these projects failed, however. For the Acadian refugees could come to terms with the feudal conditions of pre-revolutionary France, little, so that many of them emigrated again in overseas areas. One of the few successful Neuansiedlungsprojekte took place on the Brittany island of Belle - Ile -en- Mer. Many families on the island have their roots in these settlers and their Acadian origin is still remembered today.


In all three Canadian provinces that have arisen in the field of historic Acadia, the Acadians are a minority today. The largest share they have in New Brunswick, where they represent 37 percent of the total population. French as their language is it still used by 35 per cent and New Brunswick is the only officially bilingual province in Canada. In the other two provinces, the Acadians were largely anglicised. While in Nova Scotia 10 percent of the population have Acadian ancestors, the French is spoken by only 5 percent. A similar picture emerges on Prince Edward Iceland, although there are 14 percent of the population Acadian origin, but only just over 6 percent still use French in everyday life. Denominational belongs to the largest part of the Acadian population of the Roman Catholic Church.


The Acadians are today, especially in the Canadian province of New Brunswick and the U.S. state of Louisiana ( there as Cajuns ) an energetic and agile minority. With the Acadian World Congress 1994, held at intervals of 5 years, an institutional framework for the cultural unification of scattered all over the world Acadian communities was created.

The best known representative of Acadian culture is originally from New Brunswick writer Antonine Maillet, who in 1979 received as so far the only non- European Literature Prize Prix Goncourt.


The Acadians speak a French dialect, which is called the Acadian French. In the city, in southeastern New Brunswick to Moncton region also Chiac is widely spoken, a very heavily influenced by the English language version of the Acadian French. In many smaller and isolated Acadian settlements Atlantic Canada, however, the French has been largely displaced as a result of steadily progressive assimilation by the English. The Acadians, however, who had settled after fleeing or expulsion in Quebecois heartland along the St. Lawrence River, today speak Quebec French.


The flag of the Atlantic- Canadian Acadians is ajar to the basic pattern of the French tricolor flag, with the basic colors blue, white and red and in addition a gold star in the upper part of the blue field. The blue field stands for the Virgin Mary, the patron saint of the Acadians. Also, the star represents a figure de Maria, the Stella Maris ( the Star of the Sea ) and thus the Holy Mary. The golden color of the star ties in well to the flag of the Vatican City, in order to emphasize the closeness of the Acadians with the Roman Catholic Church. The flag was designed in 1884 on the second Acadian National Convention in Miscouche (Prince Edward Iceland ) the official flag of the Acadians and goes back to a proposal that coming from New Brunswick priest Marcel- Francois Richard.

The descendants of the Acadians, who are now based in Louisiana - the Cajuns - have chosen other symbols for their flag. The basic elements are also the blue-white- red colors were used, but with an opposite of the tricolor changed geometrical arrangement whose shaping removed is based on the U.S. national flag. The blue field is now on the top right and contains three silver Bourbon lily ( Fleur -de -Lis ). These stand for the French heritage and the origin of the Acadians. In the right arranged below the red field a castle is inserted, which represents a heraldic representation of Castile, the former colonial power Spain. The inserted into the left white box Golden Star has the same meaning as in the banner of the Atlantic- Canadian Acadians. The flag was designed in 1965 and 1974 recognized by the U.S. state of Louisiana as the official symbol of the Acadiana region.