I just received a short note from Gérard Theriault, our delegate for the “Léo F. & Marguerite R. Theriault” Great-Branch of Church Point, Nova Scotia. Gérard was forwarding an article that was written by Pierre Allard of the “Le Droit” newspaper in Canada. The article pertains to the political scene in Nova Scotia regarding the ‘gerrymandering’ of the largely Acadian areas in Nova Scotia. Here is my translation of the article.
Since last year, the Acadians of Nova Scotia continued a fight – which until now they have been losing – against the provincial NDP government led by Darrell Dexter in hopes of maintaining a special designation that protects three Acadian majority districts ( Clare, Argyle and Richmond) in parts of Cape Breton and the Bay of Fundy. It is high time that the Francophones in other parts of the country inform themselves of this development and hopefully will render some support.
First, taking the mandate given by the Dexter government as a guide rather than a directive, the provincial electoral boundaries were redistricted into four districts of smaller populations – the last three Acadian and a fourth composed of a majority of black citizens. The government rejected the report of the Committee and ordered the Committee to eliminate gaps in populations of more than 25% of the average number of voters.
Acadian member of the commission, Paul Gaudet, pleaded in vain on behalf of his vibrant constituency but his dissenting report has not changed the will of the Government of Nova Scotia.
“As Acadians, he wrote, we are in danger of losing our identity. We must fight daily to be fully Acadians. (…) The expulsion, assimilation and now the threat of losing our voice to the Legislative Assembly of Nova Scotia leads me to believe that the slow and painful extinction of the Acadian people will someday occur. ”
The Acadian Federation of Nova Scotia, supported by other Acadian organizations of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland, responded with a notice of lawsuit, filed in December, which the Provincial Minister of Justice Ross Landry threw away (by mistake, he says …). The question will therefore come to the courts, but certainly not be resolved before the next election, which could take place this year. It is therefore possible that no Acadian will sit in the next Parliament.
The 26 members of the Board of the Federation of Francophone and Acadian communities (CFA) recently declared with one voice their solidarity with the Acadians of Nova Scotia, and mentioned the troubling precedent and possible effects of this redistricting on other Francophone minorities in Canada. The CFA has also sent a message of support to the black community for the redistricting of Preston, which was also rejected by the NDP government. We can only imagine what the combative Acadian, Yvon Godin may be thinking along with his francophone colleagues of the NDP caucus in Ottawa.
Let us convey to Mr. Dexter and his fellows, a clear and powerful message: was not the attempted genocide of 1755 enough? Was not the expulsion of the Acadians from their lands and forced dispersal across Nova Scotia enough? …was not the removal of their language rights enough? … and the refusal until the late twentieth century to allow a comprehensive network of French schools , was it not enough to organize the gerrymandering of the electoral map to ensure that the sweet accents of the French Acadians do not shock anymore the ears of the “majority” in the legislature?
Know, dear NDP Nova Scotia, your signing of the death warrant of the Acadian constituency is an affront to the entire Canadian Francophonie, including Quebec, which has never behaved well according to the Anglophone population. If the courts do not remember your responsibility to the minority official language in your province, it is hoped that your Francophile federal cousins in Ottawa in charge will. If they do not, there will be an accounting in 2015.
And people of Cheticamp, Church Point and other Acadian communities in Nova Scotia, know that you are not alone.”