The Queen’s Royal Proclamation: An Apology for the Acadian Deportation By Warren Perrin
On December 9, 2003, a Royal Proclamation was signed in Canada wherein Queen Elizabeth II acknowledged for the first time the wrongs committed in the name of the English Crown during the Acadian deportation of 1755. Additionally, the Proclamation sets July 28th of every year, beginning in 2005, as “a day of commemoration of the Great Upheaval.” The 10,000 men, women and children exiled from Nova Scotia some two and a half centuries ago are the ancestors of many of south Louisiana’s French-Acadian or Cajun people.
The effort began in 1988 by Warren A. Perrin to seek an apology from Queen Elizabeth II for the illegal deportation of the Acadians from Nova Scotia, an acknowledgment that the expulsion was wrong under English law and a symbolic good-will gesture to the Acadian people. Commonly referred to as “The Petition,” the initiative was officially launched in January,1990 when a Petition on behalf of all Acadians was delivered to then-Prime Minster Margaret Thatcher of Great Britain and Queen Elizabeth II. As a result, attorneys and historians representing each side began negotiations to settle the historical dispute. The thirteen years of discussions and debates brought the world Acadian community together. The Petition caught the attention of the international legal community and, as a result, in 1993, Perrin was invited to present legal arguments in support of the Petition at the World Human Rights Conference in Caen, Normandy, France.On December 9, 2003, Queen Elizabeth II signed the Royal Proclamation acknowledging the wrongs committed against the Acadian people in the name of the Crown and establishing a “Day of Commemoration” on July 28th of each year. Shown at the signing in Ottawa, Canada are: Euclide Chaisson, President of Société Nationale de l’Acadie and Sheila Copps, Minister of Canadian Heritage. http://www.acadianmuseum.com/apology.html
Historical backgroundThe proclamation's origin dates back to a 1763 petition submitted to King George III by Acadian exiles in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Because the King never responded to the petition, Warren A. Perrin, a Cajun attorney and cultural activist from Erath, Louisiana, in the 1990s resurrected the petition and threatened to sue Elizabeth II (great-great-great-great-granddaughter of George III), as Queen in Right of the United Kingdom, if the British government refused to acknowledge the illegality of the Grand Dérangement. After 13 years of discussions, Perrin and his supporters in the United States and Canada persuaded the Government of Canada to issue a royal proclamation acknowledging the historical fact of the Great Upheaval and consequent suffering experienced by the Acadian people. The document itself was signed by Adrienne Clarkson, then Governor General of Canada.
Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom, Canada and her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith. To All To Whom these Presents shall come or whom the same may in any way concern, Greeting: Morris Rosenberg Deputy Attorney General of Canada A Proclamation Whereas the Acadian people, through the vitality of their community, have made a remarkable contribution to Canadian society for almost 400 years; Whereas on 28 July 1755, the Crown, in the course of administering the affairs of the British colony of Nova Scotia, made the decision to deport the Acadian people; Whereas the deportation of the Acadian people, commonly known as the Great Upheaval, continued until 1763 and had tragic consequences, including the deaths of many thousands of Acadians – from disease, in shipwrecks, in their places of refuge and in prison camps in Nova Scotia and England as well as in the British colonies in America; Whereas We acknowledge these historical facts and the trials and suffering experienced by the Acadian people during the Great Upheaval; Whereas We hope that the Acadian people can turn the page on this dark chapter of their history; Whereas Canada is no longer a British colony but a sovereign state, by and under the Constitution of Canada; Whereas when Canada became a sovereign state, with regard to Canada, the Crown in right of Canada and of the provinces succeeded to the powers and prerogatives of the Crown in right of the United Kingdom; Whereas We, in Our role as Queen of Canada, exercise the executive power by and under the Constitution of Canada; Whereas this Our present Proclamation does not, under any circumstances, constitute a recognition of legal or financial responsibility by the Crown in right of Canada and of the provinces and is not, under any circumstances, a recognition of, and does not have any effect upon, any right or obligation of any person or group of persons; And Whereas, by Order in Council P.C. 2003-1967 of 6 December 2003, the Governor in Council has directed that a proclamation do issue designating 28 July of every year as "A Day of Commemoration of the Great Upheaval", commencing on 28 July 2005; Now Know You that We, by and with the advice of Our Privy Council for Canada, do by this Our Proclamation, effective on 5 September 2004, designate 28 July of every year as "A Day of Commemoration of the Great Upheaval", commencing on 28 July 2005. Of All Which Our Loving Subjects and all others whom these Presents may concern are hereby required to take notice and to govern themselves accordingly. In Testimony Whereof, We have caused this Our Proclamation to be published and the Great Seal of Canada to be hereunto affixed. Witness: Our Right Trusty and Well-beloved Adrienne Clarkson, Chancellor and Principal Companion of Our Order of Canada, Chancellor and Commander of Our Order of Military Merit, Chancellor and Commander of Our Order of Merit of the Police Forces, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada. At Our Government House, in Our City of Ottawa, this tenth day of December in the year of Our Lord two thousand and three and in the fifty-second year of Our Reign. By Command, Jean-Claude Villiard Deputy Registrar General of Canada Canada Gazette Part II, Vol. 137, No. 27, SI/2003-188this post was originally posted July 28, 2018 - updated July 28, 2021