(photo: courtesy George Arsenault)

Acadian Remembrance Day

Annual ceremony remembers The Deportation

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On the morning of December 13 at the Skmaqn—Port-la-Joye—Fort Amherst National Historic Site, PEI, a well-attended ceremony for the annual Acadian Remembrance Day was held to remember the Deportation of the Acadians and the thousands of Acadians who died during the Great Upheaval.

The following is the testimony read by Jeannette Doiron Gallant. She represented her ancestor Madeleine Doiron who, with her husband Alexis Doiron, are the ancestors of the Doirons of PEI. We meet Madeleine in 1788, in Rustico, 30 years after the Doiron family had been deported to France from the Island.

“It has only been a few years since I arrived in Rustico with my husband Alexis and my children. We have moved several times before we settled here.

I was only 16 when I married Alexis. He was 30. He was a widower and father of three boys. We were living in Grande Anse (Pownal Bay) when the English came to deport us to France. The crossing was very tough. I lost my two children who became ill. And I gave birth to my third child, François-Xavier, in the middle of the ocean. The poor baby died a few months after we landed in Saint-Malo.

We spent a dozen years in France. First in Saint-Énogat, not far from Saint-Malo, and then on Belle-Île, near the coast of Brittany. We did what we could to survive, but life was very hard. And Alexis wanted to come back to Acadie.

In 1772, we decided to leave France and returned to Île Saint-Jean. A Mr. David Higgins invited us to settle on his land in Trois-Rivières, in Lot 59. He hired Alexis and several other Acadians to work for him as fishermen and loggers. But after a few years, Higgins faced financial problems. Now we weren’t sure what was going to happen to us. So we decided to move to Rustico.

So far, we’re pretty happy. Last year, we leased 200 acres of land from the proprietor of the township. I hope we can stay here for the rest of our lives.

I thank God for saving my life despite all the great miseries we have experienced.

I gave birth to 15 children: two at La Grande-Anse, one on the Atlantic Ocean, three in Saint-Énogat, five in Belle-Île-en-Mer and four in Trois-Rivières. Unfortunately, I lost six of them. But I am happy to tell you that I am surrounded here in Rustico by my nine surviving children and many grandchildren.”

—submitted by Georges Arsenault

Acadian