By Wendy Elliott
This year marked the 250th anniversary of the departure of the last ships deporting Acadians from Nova Scotia, so the Acadian Odyssey Commission organized a special historical excursion starting in Halifax and ending in Grand-Pré.
The excursion began at the Acadian commemorative monument on the Halifax waterfront, across from George’s Island. After a brief ceremony, participants drove to Falmouth, where there was another commemorative ceremony at the old Acadian cemetery that was discovered by chance several years ago.
Participants then drove to Horton Landing where the annual ceremony of reconciliation took place beside the Deportation Cross. At 5:55 p.m., the bells at the Covenanter Church rang to mark the beginning of the inter-spiritual and intercultural service, which the United Church of Canada has organized since 2005.
The service was followed by a Walk of Solidarity to the Visitor Centre at Grand-Pré National Historic Site.
The Acadian Odyssey Commission is responsible for the international commemoration of the Grand Dérangement. The commission has erected 10 monuments like the one on the Halifax waterfront.
“This year, we wanted to do something special to remember the 915 Acadians who were deported from Halifax on Aug. 18, 1762. We are commemorating tragic events of the past and honouring the courage of our ancestors,” said Jean Gaudet, president of the Acadian Odyssey Commission.
In 2004, the Canadian government officially designated July 28 as the annual Day of Commemoration of the Grand Dérangement of the Acadians. The Grand Dérangement, or Great Upheaval, refers to the period between 1749 and the early 1800s when many Acadian families were forced to move from one place to another. It was on July 28, 1755, that the Nova Scotia government made the decision to deport the Acadians.