The Acadians (Acadiens), are the descendants of the 17th-century French Colonists who settled in Acadia located in the Canadian Maritime Provinces – Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island – Québec, and in the State of Maine.
Although today most of the Acadians and Québécois are Francophone Canadians, Acadia was a distinct colony of New France, and was geographically and administratively separate from the French colony of Canada (modern day Québec). Acadians and Québécois share a common heritage but hold histories and cultures that are unique in many ways. The settlers whose descendants became Acadians, for example, came from all the regions of France but coming predominantly directly from the cities.
Prior to the British Conquest of Acadia in 1710, the Acadians lived for almost 80 years in Acadia. After the Conquest they lived under British rule for the next forty-five years. During the French and Indian War, British colonial officers and New England legislators and militia executed the Great Expulsion of 1755-1763. They deported more than 14,000 Acadians from the maritime region. Approximately one third perished. Many later settled in Louisana where they became known as Cajuns. Others were transported to France. Later on many Acadians returned to the Maritime provinces of Canada, most specifically New Brunswick.
When about forty Acadian delegates attended the conference of the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste du Québec in 1880, they came up with the idea of an Acadian national convention. The first convention took place the following year and many more were to follow, featuring discussions on language, education, and religion. It was at Memramcook, in 1881, that Acadians chose August 15, Feast of the Assumption, as their national commemoration day. In 1884 they chose Avé Maria Stella to be the national anthem, and approved the design of the national flag.
The Acadian flag was adopted August 15, 1884 at the Second Acadian Convention at Miscouche, Prince Edward Island. Nearly 5,000 delegates from across the Maritime provinces were in attendance. Father Marcel-François Ricard designed the flag and brought it with him to the event. The flag was sewn by Marie Babineau.
Like the flag of France it is blue, white, and red. The gold star in the top left hand corner is Stella Maris (Star of the Sea), there to seek the guidance and protection of the Virgin Mary, the patron saint of the Acadians. The star is set on the blue stripe because blue is the color of Mary. The yellow color of the star represents the Papacy. This color shows the adherence of Acadians to the Roman Catholic Church as well as the important role the Church played in the history of Acadia.
This flag represents Acadians worldwide. The original flag is preserved at Musee Acadien, Université de Moncton, in Moncton New Brunswick.