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National Acadian Day

August 15 is National Acadian Day. Choosing this day was one of the highlights of the first National Acadian Convention in Memramcook, New Brunswick in 1881. There were several suggestions, but the debate mainly focused on Saint-Jean-Baptiste, French Canada's national holiday, which is celebrated on June 24, and Our Lady of Assumption, celebrated on August 15.

Supporters of the Saint-Jean-Baptiste agreed that a holiday common to all French Canadians would unite them around common objectives. They were hoping to strengthen the ties between Qu�bec and Acadia. Since the 1860s, priests and laymen in Acadia had introduced the idea to encourage Acadian parishes to celebrate Saint-Jean-Baptiste.

The first Saint-Jean-Baptiste holiday was held in Rustico, Prince Edward Island, in the early 1860s. The parish priest originally from Qu�bec, founded a temperance institute under the patronage of Saint-Jean-Baptiste, and each year members celebrated the birthday of their patron saint. Memramcook, Bouctouche, Miscouche and Baie-Egmont soon did the same.

Supporters of the Assumption, however, wanted to recognize that the history and nationality of the Acadians was different than that of other French Canadians.

Reverend Marcel-Fran�ois Richard, one of the Assumption's strongest supporters, said:

"... It seems to me that a people who, for over a century of hardships and persecutions, was able to preserve its religion, language, customs and autonomy, must have acquired enough importance to affirm its existence in a solemn way; and this could not be accomplished better than by being able to celebrate its own national holiday...�

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