[As we approach the 150th Birthday of Canada]
History reminds us that between 1755 and 1763 approximately 10,000 Acadians were exiled from the land now known as Canada. The “Du Grand derangement” commenced shortly following the siege and defeat by British forces of the French fortress at Louisbourg (now a national historic site on the south shores of Nova Scotia).
To the direct descendants of Guillaume Fournier who arrived as a French soldier in the “New World”, in 1652 , his wisdom through marriage into the (now) First Nations family (Mi’kmaq)one hundred years earlier assisted in aiding his great grandson and family in avoiding the massive deportations. While the family lost the substantial farm and community they had helped form at a thriving and prosperous Acadian community along the south shore of the Saint Lawrence River in St-Thomas-de-la-Pointe-à-la-Caille (present day St. Thomas Montmagy ).
Instead of being swept from their farms, loaded onto ships and deported in a saga well described by Longfellow in his famous and epic poem,” Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie”. It was Guillaume Fournier , the name sake of his adventurous grandfather (Guillaume) who along with his wife (Angelique) 2 sons and two daughters escaped deportation by finding safety with their Mi’kmaq relatives where they lived and survived the next two generations as Mi’Kmaq at Port Joli (in present day Nova Scotia).
History records Port Joli as a long standing Mi’Kmaq settlement far enough away from the failed fortress at Louisbourg to be safe among the Mi’kmaq to avoid being shipped far away, my family history shows numerous ancestors born at Port St. Joli including my own 4th Grandfather (Jean-Baptiste) who found it in his heart to emerge from St. Joli and volunteer to fight alongside the British in repelling invasion by militarily superior numbers of USA army during the war of 1812-1814.
It was Jean-Baptist Fournier who relocated the family into the newly formed Perth settlement (near Ottawa) where he and his sons homesteaded on a land grant in reward for military service that took him into major skirmishes in places such as Battle of the Chateauguay (October 26, 1813); Crysler’s Farm (November 11, 1813) and the gruesome battle at Lundy’s Lane (25 July 1814).
History shows that throughout these battles, the groundwork was laid for Canadian independence as is enjoyed by all Canadians today. An amazing chapter in my family’s history reveals that in addition to Jean-Baptiste Fournier, his young son (also Jean-Baptiste) and younger brother (Augustine) fought side by side in a largely volunteer army against overwhelming and well equipped USA forces.
I am equally proud that in addition to this 1812 war veteran’s wife (a Seneca) that his son wed an Algonkin (Montagnais ) lady who is my great-great grandmother.
I wear my history and culture with immense pride knowing that this is the single unique “CULTURE” that is truly Canadian and ought not to be obliterated by multi-culturalism. In all truth, this is the sum-total of the single unique area of truly Canadian culture and this is the legacy left for today. It is sadly ironic indictment to reflect upon my father, his brothers and sisters being forcibly removed from family for the expressed purpose of forced assimilation in the century just passed.
Copyright Thunderbird Rising 2016
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