Monday, August 25, 2008

It's Never Too Late to "Right A Wrong"

It’s Never Too Late to “Right A Wrong”
BY: Warren Perrin

I am a descendant of an Acadian exiled to Louisiana from Nova Scotia in 1765. I became interested in my heritage because of two events: The first, was passage of the Act which apologized for America’s internment of Japanese during World War II; then, when explaining the Acadians’ expulsion to my son, Bruce, he asked, “You mean our ancestors were criminals?” The question moved me to research the Acadian expulsion. I discovered that the diaspora was illegal according to law in the 1700s; I thought: “We cannot close that chapter of our history with this hanging overus or we will live in exile forever.” The expulsion was an overt case of “ethnic cleansing,” the first by Americans against Americans in North America. In 1990, on behalf of all Acadians, I prepared a lawsuit called “The Petition” that called on the British Crown to acknowledge the wrongs of the expulsion; happily, it was resolved on December 9, 2003, when Queen Elizabeth II signed the Royal Proclamation1 decreeing that July 28th will be observed as a “Day of Remembrance” of Acadians’ sufferings. July 28th was selected because the Order of Deportation was signed on July 28, 1755, 250 years ago.

I believe that old injustices must be addressed. The exile was one of the darkest chapters in North American history. It represents the first example of “ethnic cleansing” of Europeans in the history of the continent. From 1755 to 1763, the British cleared Nova Scotia of Acadians. It is impossible to capture in words the suffering of the Acadians during the years of expulsion. One-third of the Acadians died. Yet, my culture continued developing in Louisiana, allowing us to maintain our cultural identity. Cajuns continue to evolve as a vibrant part of the American mosaic.

The 1960s saw the rise of Cajun pride signaling our efforts to reclaim our heritage through a variety of measures: from protecting the French language in the constitution to my demanding that the Crown acknowledge its mistreatment of the Acadians. Because the memory of evil will act as a shield against evil, countries have to wrench themselves into gazing into the chasms of their past.

Ironically, appropriate to our cause is the quote from Winston Churchill about the Germans during WWII: “You do your worst - and we will do our best.”

On July 28, (2005) we will commemorate both the 250th anniversary of our deportation and the first “Day of Remembrance” as decreed by Queen Elizabeth II. As urged by a Congressional resolution to be passed in July by the U. S. Congress and Resolution No. 49, passed by the Louisiana legislature in May, 2005, we invite everyone to remember the sufferings of the Acadians who have now been redeemed’s never too late to right a wrong.2

1 y be viewed on our website:
2 Perrin’s quote from the current issue of National Geographic magazine article,
“Remembering the Acadians,” by Margaret G. Zackowitz, July, 2005, “Geographia” section.
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Warren A. Perrin

Warren A. Perrin has a Juris Doctorate degree from Louisiana State University School of Law, and is an attorney with the firm of Perrin, Landry, deLaunay, Dartez & Ouellet, President of CODOFIL (the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana), an Adjunct Professor at the University f Louisiana at Lafayette and author of “Acadian Redemption: From Beausoleil Broussard to the Queen’s Royal Proclamation.” He was a member of the board of directors of the Congrès Mondial Z:\Darylin\MUSEUM FILES\ARTICLES WRITTEN BY WAP\It Is Never Too Late To Right A Wrong - This I Believe.wpd Acadien - Louisiane 1999, President of the Lt. Governor’s Task Force of FrancoFête ‘99, and the founder of the Acadian Museum of Erath, Louisiana.

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