Talented Tuesday: New Film Strives to Depict Cajuns’ History
There’s a new documentary about Acadians and Cajuns that is previewing on YouTube. The filmmaker is a native of Maine and not Acadian, and that adds a unique dimension to the film. She had no preconceived notions about the people she interviewed. Brenda Jepson traveled and gathered material for her film to places such as France, Canada and Maine, where a number of the original Acadians were unwillingly relocated; she said the film is for and by the people of Louisiana.
Many Cajuns contributed to this story of Acadian history, particularly, what happened to them after arriving in Louisiana. I’m really anxious to view this documentary. If I were in Lafayette, I’d go see it at Vermilionville. They’re having a showing at 6:00 tonight. I just texted my sister about it; hopefully, she’ll give me a report about it.
In any case, I plan to buy it when it’s available. The filmmaker’s website is Crown of Maine Productions.com. She has a YouTube page and you can watch a short preview of the film at youtube.com/watch?v=H4jPaL4KEsA. It looks very impressive.
What started her interest in making a film about Cajuns is that she had produced a film about the Acadians, some of the first European settlers to North America, in a film spanning from 1604 – 1785. St. Croix Island, Maine was one of the earliest French settlements, before Jamestown, and long before the Pilgrims.
The settlers were very successful until that tragic event which began in 1755-1785, lasting several years. This event was an early form of genocide, called the Expulsion or deportation of the Acadians by the British.
More than 10,000 Acadians perished from disease or drowning as they were thrown into slave ships. The saddest part of this story is that the great majority of the families were not placed together on the ships amid the total chaos. Many of them never found their spouses or children, some taking 40 years for that happy reunion.
The first documented Acadians, a party of 20 people, arrived in New Orleans in February 1764 from New York after a brief stop in Mobile, Alabama.
One couple, Jean Poirier and Magdeleine Richard, who are in my family tree, married on January 22, 1764 in Mobile. The arrival was documented in a letter dated April 6, 1764 by Governor D’Abbadie to France. The Acadians arrived in small parties, with a few groups as large as 200 individuals.
One of those parties of 200 was from detention camps at Halifax. They had been shipped to St. Domingue, Haiti and were led by my direct ancestor, Joseph Broussard dit Beausoleil. This group settled in St Martin Parish.
Reading the stories of my ancestors, even looking at the Census records, one can get a glimmer of how they suffered. Thankfully, some 3,000 Acadians did find their way to Louisiana, and from this group, nearly all my ancestry comes from, on both sides of my line.
Although evicted from their homeland back in 1755, we have remained intact as a people. There is much to be proud of. We now have our own flag, our own national anthem, even recently, an apology from the Queen of Britain on December 9, 2003.