Historical Capsules

The flags of Acadia and Acadiana

The purpose of this historical capsule is to briefly outline the history of both the flag of Acadia and that of Acadiana in Louisiana, which are featured on the homepage of this travel notebook following the roads of the Acadian people. Why do the Acadian and Louisiana Cajun banners carry so many visual elements? The answer is simple, a nation must unite its people around a common symbol. To do this, it must federate so that each nationalist can find a little of what everyone is on the flag representing a place, a parish or a state. Even aesthetic tastes do not dictate the choice of colours. In short, the flag conveys the foundations and values of a homeland.

The flag of Acadia

The Acadian flag, also called the starred tricolor, is the most popular Acadian national emblem. Moreover, it is very frequently used by Acadian institutions. It was adopted at the second National Convention of the Acadians on August 15, 1884 in Miscouche, Prince Edward Island (Canada) and used for the first time the next day. Consequently, this makes it the oldest symbol of francophone people in North America.

When the starred tricolor is an object of pride and passion (Photo credit: Luc Langevin)

In the speech accompanying the presentation of the flag, Father Marcel-François Richard explained its symbolism and ideology when he said: “We need to have a national flag flying over our heads on days of our national meetings or celebrations. Several kinds of flags have been suggested. I do not want to belittle the suggestions made in this regard, but I cannot agree with those who argue that we must choose a flag altogether different from the one which represents our motherland. The tricolor is the flag of France from which we are the descendants … However, I would like Acadia to have a flag that reminded her not only that her children are French speaking, but also Acadians. I therefore suggest, and I do propose to the delegates of this Convention, the following design for the (our) national flag. The tricolor as it already exists would be that of Acadia with the addition of a star in papal golden colour in the blue background. The star representing Mary’s Star or Stella Maris will be used as an escutcheon in the manner that the United Kingdom flag represents Confederation on the flag of Canada (which has since become a flag of the past) …”. Note that since 1965 the Maple Leaf (based on the flag of the Royal Military College of Canada) has replaced the Union Jack.

The flag of Acadiana

Acadiana, also called “Cajun Country”, is the official name given to Louisiana’s region of French influence which shelters the majority of Cajuns who are the descendants of French speaking people expelled from Acadia (a region of Eastern Canada consisting of three provinces, namely New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island which are called “The Maritimes” in the 22nd century). Of the 64 parishes that form Louisiana, 22 of them, about one-third, compose Acadiana. The appellation of which comes from an official proclamation of the Louisiana State. Today, Acadiana has about 1.4 million inhabitants, of which 250,000 speak “Louisiana French” also called “Cajun French”. In 1971, Louisiana’s General Assembly officially recognized Acadiana as a distinct cultural region comprised of the following parishes: Acadia, Ascension, Assumption, Avoyelles, Calcasieu, Cameron, Evangeline, Iberia, Iberville, Jefferson Davis, Lafayette, Lafourche, Pointe Coupee, St. Charles, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary, Terrebonne, Vermilion and West Baton Rouge.

When the flag is anything but a simple piece of cloth (Photo credit: TopCrazy)

It was three years later, in 1974, that the current Acadiana flag was officially adopted by the General Assembly. Known as the “Louisiana Acadian Flag” (in other words, the Cajun Flag), it was designed in 1965 by Dr. Thomas Arceneaux of the University of Southwest Louisiana (now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette) on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the Acadian deportees in Louisiana.

The three silver “fleurs de lys” on a blue field represent the French heritage of Acadiana. The golden star on a white field symbolizes “Our Lady of the Assumption”, the patron saint of Acadia as well as the active participation of Cajuns in the American Revolution. The tower of gold on a red background represents Spain, which ruled Louisiana when the Acadians arrived.

Bibliographical References

The Origins of the Acadian Flag and National Holiday: the Memramcook and Miscouche Conventions
Denis Bourque, Encyclopedia of French Cultural Heritage in North America.

The Louisiana-Acadiana Flag