The Other Acadiens:
Language Policy and the Future of French
In Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island
Robert M. Gill
Since the 1760s, the survival of Acadian communities
in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island has been problematic.
For over two hundred years, the Acadians' language and culture
survived in the face of government hostility. Today, while
government language policies seem to favor the preservation
of French as a living language and while French-language educaÂ
tion is available in both provinces, the language's long-range
viability remains in question.
The prospects of VAcadie outside New Brunswick should
be of interest not only to students of French Canada, but to
all concerned with QuÃ©bec and Canadian politics. The disÂ
appearance of French from this region would render much of
the federal government's language policy superfluous while
confirming the argument of QuÃ©bec nationalists that FrenchCanadian culture is dead outside QuÃ©bec and the "bilingual
belt" along its borders. On the other hand, the survival of
French in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island would strengthÂ
en the federalist position.
This study considers language policies and legislation,
both past and present, in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island
and their implications for the future of the French language in
these provinces. It begins with a brief consideration of the
history of French prior to 1968, and then considers changes
in the language's legal position in government and education
since that year. It concludes with a consideration of the probÂ
able future of VAcadie outside New Brunswick.