The most remarkable thing about doing "A Scattering of Seeds" documentary on my Acadian ancestors was going back in history and finding a very personal connection to my past, a sense of belonging to the present day culture that hadn't quite been there before.
My mother came from northern New Brunswick and my father from the small village of Pubnico. They had left their Acadian roots for economic reasons - they saw moving into the English world as an opportunity, for both themselves and for their children. As a child I didn't think about it much, but as I got older, I viewed this break from my Acadian roots not as an opportunity but as a loss.
I grew up spending summers in Acadia, visiting relatives. These were idyllic times, in the country with extended family that accepted me as one of their own. But they spoke a different language and it was sometimes difficult to relate. I remember feeling like a bit of an outsider - I was from the city and spoke English. There was always this longing to feel more connected, to really belong.
Through university and various immersion programs I would temporarily acquire the language and be able to speak French. But not living it, it was always eventually lost to me again. Then last year my father passed away and I realized that he had really been the strongest connection to my past. And now, without that, how do I pass any sort of connection, any sense of our family roots, onto my children?
This project gave me that link to my heritage. It established for me my own personal ties. The Acadian Spirit story says clearly that, "This is an emotional connection that is mine." The French language is still important and I still want to speak it, but I have forged my own ties without that. The documentary became my commitment to being part of the Acadian community in a real way.
I think the Acadian community benefitted as well. Most Acadians live in fairly remote and isolated communities - their culture is strong because of that fact. But I think it also wears on their sense of identity and makes them vulnerable to feeling diminished. Seeing themselves through my interest, through the eyes of an outsider, in a way renewed their pride and cultural passion. They took great pride in seeing someone from the outside interested and supporting the importance of Acadian culture.
The journey I went on in doing Acadian Spirit allowed the community of Pubnico to see their legacy in a broader context, it allowed me a way to make a personal connection with my ancestors and I think it started a similar awareness in my children. They're too young now to really appreciate what that trip to Pubnico meant. It won't impact on them until they go back and watch the documentary in maybe ten or twenty years. But it's a shared experience of our family history, and through my finding a connection I think my children eventually will too.
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