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Acadian Landing celebration goes on, despite foul weather

MADAWASKA, Maine — Close to 300 people attended a special Mass and time of fellowship held in honor of the Acadian landing in Madawaska at the St. David Catholic Church on Sunday, June 30.

Despite the threat of bad weather, close to 300 people showed up to the Mass hoping for a re-enactment to follow. The original plan was to have people canoe down from the Madawaska boat landing to the Acadian Landing site and re-enact the first Acadians’ first planting of the cross in 1785. 

Following Mass, the organizers provided chicken stew and ployes to the visitors of the event. While this wasn’t the first time the landing was canceled due to weather, the Acadian Festival Committee still had speakers, including Madawaska Town Manager Gary Picard; Allan Tremblay, a Maliseet elder from the Tobique First Nation who spoke about how he had the same issue where he had to speak the language of the country and couldn’t speak his native language; and Charles Ken Theriault from Madawaska, who spoke about the Acadians and the landing. 

In 1604, the river was given its name on the feast day of St. John the Baptist by Samuel de Champlain. The celebration of the landing usually takes place around the feast of St. John the Baptist (June 24). The landing itself took place in 1785. 

“As time goes on, every tradition fades away,” said Gerald Soucy, one of the organizers. “It was my thinking that we gather people and go back to celebrating our roots.” 

Every year, the Acadian Festival focuses on a selection of specific families to bring together to celebrate their namesake and heritage. This year the main focus is to be the Acadians landing here in 1785, according to Soucy, rather than just focusing on celebrating a specific family. Soucy added the reason is because the Acadian Festival Committee is having a hard time rallying families. 

“The reason Madawaska exists is because the Acadians landed here, so we decided to focus on that as the reason for the celebration. The community still has the Acadian identity. Like any, [it] fades away through time, due to lack of education or lack of the young people having the interest and less of an affinity to your roots,” Soucy said. “I think it’s important for any people to celebrate their heritage. If you don’t celebrate your past, you’ll have an identity crisis later down the road.” 

Soucy said the committee plans to maintain the same focus next year.

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