LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – As the British Crown changes hands for the first time in 70 years, it’s interesting to note that Acadiana has had its own ties to the late Queen Elizabeth II over her lifetime. One Acadiana man, Warren A. Perrin, shares with News 10 his story on how the British Crown officially apologized for its role in some of the darkest moments in Cajun history.
A brief history:
The Acadian story begins in 1604, as French colonists began to settle in Acadie in Canada, where they were able to prosper as fishers and farmers.
Acadie, now known as Nova Scotia, transferred ownership several times over the course of the century. That is, until 1713 when Great Britain gained permanent control of Acadie (Nova Scotia).
According to the National Park Service (NPS), the settlers under new control maintained their independence while refusing to swear allegiance to the British Crown and remained on the land for the next 40 trying years.
In 1755 however, the British Crown began the removal of Acadians, herding them onto British ships and setting sail for unknown destinations.
While many of those destinations were in France, the Caribbean, and various British colonies, according to NPS, many of the exiles created their new homes in South Louisiana.
By the early 1800s, nearly 4,000 Acadians had settled in Louisiana.
According to NPS, as Cajuns settled across South Louisiana and Acadiana, their French, architecture, music, and food began to change. Today, the Cajuns of Louisiana are renowned for their food, music, and their ability to maintain tradition.
The tie to Queen Elizabeth II
1988 saw the beginning of Warren A. Perrin’s effort to seek an apology from Queen Elizabeth II and the British Crown for the deportation of Acadians from Nova Scotia and an acknowledgment of their wrongdoings.
According to the Acadian Museum, the initiative was launched in January of 1990 when a petition on behalf of Acadians was delivered to Queen Elizabeth II.
“I served both Margaret Thatcher and Queen Elizabeth II and gave them 30 days to respond to my request for an apology,” said Perrin.
Perrin did not want monetary compensation, however, he just wanted to clear the names of his ancestors who were wrongly deported in violation of British Law.
He told News 10 that the process took 12 years, and with the support of the Canadian Government, the document was finally signed.
In 2003, a representative of Queen Elizabeth II signed a Royal Proclamation that acknowledged the wrongdoings committed in the name of the English Crown during the Acadian deportation of 1755.
“The document was prepared in the name of the Queen of England and it clearly did a couple of things that had never taken place, surprisingly, for the first time, England admitted there was an Acadian deportation,” Perrin said.
In addition, the Proclamation set July 28th of every year as “a day of commemoration of the Great Upheaval.“