It seems kind of fitting that today I find myself in the province where, 133 years ago, a delegation of our ancestors at the very first National Convention of the Acadians declared August 15 National Acadian Day. Even more fitting perhaps is the fact that I am passing through New Brunswick after having just attended the 2014 World Acadian Congress – a two and a half week event where Acadians from around the world reunite to discuss, celebrate, learn about, and reconnect with all things Acadian.
I traveled to Edmundston to deliver a presentation on the role of religion in contemporary Acadian identity in Nova Scotia, the subject of a Masters thesis I am currently (taking way too long to finish) writing. At the heart of my thesis is a simple question, one I’ve been asking myself for some time. It’s actually a question that we here at the Embassy have been asking ourselves since we launched this label four years ago: what does it mean to be Acadian?
The simple answer is it means lots of things in lots of different ways to lots of different people.
The problem is that we don’t all see it that way.
There are those who would believe that having ancestral ties to those deported from the Maritimes in 1755 is what makes you Acadian. Some who would suggest that sharing a certain set of values is the element that binds us. Others who would insist that in order to be Acadian you have to speak French. There are many who would agree that being Acadian entails a combination of all of those things and some variety thereof, and many others still who are simply content knowing that rappie pie is the best food you could ever eat.
The beauty of what it means to be Acadian is that it can be all of those things.
In certain circles you will hear Acadie referred to as a “societal project.” Acadian Embassy has always had the goal of contributing to that project in our own unique way and adding our voice to the conversation.
Over the past few years, we’ve been fortunate to share some of our ideas with musicians, academics, friends, and fans. But from day one, Josh and I have talked about the idea of using music as a tool to express these ideas too.
The Great Upheaval – the band’s debut full-length album – is a post-rock, psychedelic doom opus that draws on themes of the brutal 18th Century expulsion to create brooding sonic narratives. I won’t speak too much to the album’s concept (you can read all about that in this excellent feature by Noisey), save to say this probably isn’t the first thing you think of when someone says “Acadian.”
And that’s sort of the point. It cuts against the grain, it challenges assumptions, it prompts discussion – the kind of things we’ve been trying to spur behind the scenes with the Embassy since 2010.
Also you guys, it’s a really amazing album. Just ask NOW Magazine.
Bonne fête nationale et joyeux 15 août!