French Canadian Music Connection at the Flynn Center

Autumn River, New BrunswickFriday night we headed down to the Flynn Center to hear Le Vent du Nord and the Pine Leaf Boys.

Le Vent du Nord may well be our favorite band. They play traditional and contemporary Quebec folk music. Their performance style is fast paced and melodic, and they continue to develop, and perfect, a rich tapestry of vocal harmonies. At a Le Vent du Nord concert, a 75 minute set seems to pass in mere moments!

The Pine Leaf Boys play “back porch Louisiana Cajun party music”. Their set was playful and upbeat. Many of the lyrics were written and sung in Cajun French, a language they described as “almost gone”, a language “no one speaks”. Indeed, one of the band’s missions is to keep language viably in the memory of the Cajun people.

Neither band spoke much about the history of Canadian French or Cajun music, or the Acadian people, even though this year marks the250th Anniversary of Acadian deportation from what would become Canada. Many of the Acadians were Metis.  Latin Louisiana recently wrote about the deportation:

This year marks the 250th anniversary of the Acadian deportation, a cruel episode that left the year 1755 stamped on the collective memory of Acadians throughout the world. By today’s standards, most agree that the deportation, at the onset of the French and Indian War, was nothing less than an attempt at ethnic cleansing (the first by Americans against a north American people). At the time, however, the officials who planned the atrocities believed that ridding Acadia of its inhabitants, in order to settle their lands with good English subjects, was “noble.” In the Pennsylvania Gazette of September 4, 1755, we find: “We are now upon a great and noble Scheme of sending the neutral French out of this Province, who have always been secret Enemies, and have encouraged our Savages to cut our throats.” (Quoted from A Great and Noble Scheme by John Mack Faragher.)

The deportation had several goals. One was the confiscation of what were considered the best cultivable lands in North America, while another was the dispersal of the inhabitants in English colonies in order to assimilate them into the Anglo-Saxon culture. A third, I would argue, was to destroy what was becoming a thriving libertarian community. In fact, the Acadians appear to have been the ones with a great and noble scheme, that of establishing a stateless, free society. But throughout history, few things seem to have upset rulers more than the unwillingness of a people to submit. Some things just never change.

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