Monday, June 19, 2017

Tales from Down East: of Acadians and the elusive Americans

Yesterday I promised you some tales from "Down East", which is what Canucks call their four Atlantic provinces: Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. (The term "Maritimes", which you sometimes hear, refers only to the last three.) They say the people Down East are the friendliest, the seafood the finest, and the problems the fewest of any part of the Dominion.

All that and more made Atlantic Canada the preferred destination for the many 1000s of American snowflakes, like Lena Dunham, who threatened (or promised) to leave the Excited States of America in the unlikely (so they thought) event that Donald Trump became President.

Which he did. But did the mortally wounded liberals stage a mass exodus to what Michael Moore thinks is heaven? The ballots were still being counted when Canada's state-owned broadcaster, the CBC, cast doubts on whether it would really happen. (See "Are Americans really going to flee to Canada after Trump win?", 9/11/17.) Would they really ignore Gavin McInnes' warning? Guided by Agent 78, Walt spent last week in Nova Scotia, hunting [read "searching". Ed.] for refugees from the land of the free and the home of the wimpy.

In the first picture you see Walt [Really! Ed.] looking out over the Grand Pré ("Big Meadow"), in the heart of Evangeline country, or Acadia, as she is still proudly known. Evangeline is the heroine of an epic poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (an American!), published in 1847. The poem tells the story of an Acadian girl named Evangeline and her search for her lost love Gabriel, set during the time of the Expulsion of the Acadians.

The Acadians who still live in the Maritimes refer to the shameful events of the mid-18th century as le Grand Dérangement (the Great Deportation). When the French ceded most of New France to the British, the latter were distressed to find the area around the Bay of Fundy already settled by people who were French-speaking but, even worse, Catholics. So they threw them out. Deported them. The Acadians were shipped off, from a point just a couple of miles from where Walt is sitting in the picture, to the Thirteen Colonies, to France (which the Acadians did not regard as "the old country") and to Louisiana, where their descendants became known as... wait for it... Cajuns! But many of them returned to Canada, and are there in the tens of thousands even now, still proudly Acadian after all these years.

The point of that story -- and I do have one -- is that the idea of ridding your country of people who do not share your language and your values did not originate with Donald Trump! The lesson for Mr Trump is that it's nigh well impossible to expel thousands or millions of people and expect them to stay gone. Before the Glorious War of the Secession, many well-meaning Americans, including "Honest Abe", thought shipping coloured people back to Africa was the solution to the problem of slavery. That was the notion that resulted in the creation of Liberia. Didn't work any better than did the Expulsion of the Acadians.

The best you can do, IMHO, is to close your borders and hope that the "others" will one day assimilate, as did the Acadians. Today they are the most perfectly bilingual and bi-cultural Canadians -- all-round great people.

But I digress.... The mission was to find some Americans who had, post-Trump, navigated Canada's complex and stupid immigration system and settled in Nova Scotia. Agent 78 and I travelled from Halifax southwest to Lunenburg then up to Grand Pré, across through Truro and all the way around Cape Breton Island without meeting (or even hearing of) one (1) American who had recently relocated to that beautiful province.

We did, however, encounter several American tourists -- whiteys, every one -- the kind who can't work out the "funny money". What they have figured out, though, is how to apologize for being American. "Don't blame me. I didn't vote for him." That strikes me as both sad and unnecessary. If you're from a nice part of the USA -- Virginia, let's say -- Down East people will probably welcome you more warmly than if you were from, say, Toronto. Even if you wanted to settle!

No comments:

Post a Comment