Edmundston, New Brunswick
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Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement to mark the opening of the 2014 World Acadian Congress in Edmundston, New Brunswick:
“Your Honour Lieutenant Governor Nicholas, New Brunswick Premier Alward, Quebec representative Minister D’Amour, Maine Governor LePage, Mayor Simard, distinguished guests, Acadian friends.
“As Prime Minister of Canada, I am greatly honoured to help open this meeting of the Acadian diaspora, bringing together representatives of Francophone communities from across our country.
“I also have to say that I was very impressed with the view from Bernard-ValcourtBridge.
“Bernard is surely the only living Canadian minister to have had a bridge named after him, and he has never even been Transport Minister!
“It’s a fitting tribute to the very Acadian qualities of perseverance and pride that Bernard personifies so well.
“I would like to extend a special welcome to the delegates from New England and Louisiana who are here with us today.
“Although you aren’t Canadian citizens, you are part of the extended Acadian family, and as such I hope that you will feel at home here in New Brunswick over the next few days.
“I see that the World Acadian Congress meets every five years.
“Five years also happens to be the maximum parliamentary mandate in Canada.
“You can get a lot done during a term if you have a clear objective in mind, solid principles, a determined team and the support of your fellow citizens.
“A fact borne out by the successive organizers of the Congress since 1994 – and even 1881 if you count the inaugural National Convention of Acadians.
“It is only right that we pay tribute to those pioneers today.
“What they accomplished for the Acadians’ cause has benefited all Canadians.
“In three years we will join together to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation.
“This historic milestone will remind us that Canada came into being not by the victory of one group or region over the others.
“Not by allowing the majority to trample the rights and values of the minorities.
“Our country succeeded – and is today admired and even the envy of the world – because it was conceived and nourished in the hearts of generations of men and women, from different cultures and origins, spread throughout this immense land.
“And, as is only fitting, we pay tribute to the vision, determination and conviction of the Fathers of Confederation, particularly John A. Macdonald and George-Étienne Cartier.
“Through their frank and courageous cooperation over a number of years, Macdonald and Cartier managed to unite the hopes and interests of Francophones and Anglophones within a new country.
“But well before the bells began ringing at midnight on June 30th, 1867 in Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to announce the proclamation of Confederation, the Acadians had already proven their attachment to their homeland, time and again over many years, and often in the most difficult circumstances.
“Champlain had already explored Acadia before founding Quebec in 1608.
“Which means that your history dates back to the very origins of Canada.
“But when we consider the Acadian saga, we see that it hasn’t all been smooth sailing.
“Few communities in current-day Canada have been as buffeted by the ebb and flow of military and political turbulence, often dictated by events on the other side of the Atlantic.
“But faith, patriotism and solidarity are stronger than adversity and isolation.
“Come hell or high water, you developed your communities, raised your families and founded your institutions.
“You even forged your own accent so that your attachment to your corner of the country might be better understood.
“And you are a living reminder that Canada was born in French.
“The fact that so many of you have gathered here today, ladies and gentlemen, with such enthusiasm and pride, is the most eloquent proof that the aspirations, sacrifices and toil of your ancestors were not in vain, and that new generations of Acadians will amaze all their compatriots for a very long time to come.
“Ladies and gentlemen, because your ancestors believed in this country for centuries, and because you in turn embraced and developed it with confidence and pride, there can be no greater glory for a young person today than to proclaim: ‘I am Acadian.’
“Long live Acadia!
“And long live Canada.”
Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on the opening of the 2014 World Acadian Congress