Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Spirit of Evangeline - Opening at the Acadian Archives - Friday August 25, 2006

A day of special activities will celebrate the opening of Françoise Paradis "Spirit of Evangeline" exhibit on Friday August 25th at UMFK's Acadian Archives/Archives acadiennes.

There will be presentations, an open house, film showings and, of course, the "Spirit of Evangeline" exhibit itself, a wonderful collection of illustrations, music, books, films, and memorabilia which illustrate the importance and durability of Henry Wadsworth Longfellowís most famous fictional heroine, Evangeline.

Opening Day events begin at noon at the Archivesí Gallery Room with a showing of the 45-minute CBC documentary, Canadian Experience: Expulsion. Filmed during the 2004 World Acadian Congress, this documentary explores the impact of the Acadian Deportation and its aftermath on two families: the Acadian Thibodeaux, whose ancestor Pierre established a homestead in Nova Scotia in 1690, and who were deported to Philadelphia in 1755; and the Shaws, a Rhode Island farming family who received a land grant for the Thibodeaux homestead in 1761 and have farmed there for seven generations.

The showing of this film is made possible through the kindness of Dick Thibodeau, a Massachusetts descendant of Pierre Thibodeau, who is featured in the documentary and who will be present at the showing. "A number of people who have seen Canadian Experience: Expulsion have said that of all the films about Acadian history and the Deportation, this was by far the best," said Thobodeau..

At 2:00 pm, curator Françoise Paradis will be giving a slide show about the making of the 1929 United Artists feature film version of Evangeline. Paradis has immersed herself in the history of this remarkable epic film which came out just as Hollywood was moving from silent films to "the talkies." Her talk will be followed by a screening of the film.

From 6:30 to 8:30 pm, the Archives will host an open house both to honor "Spirit of Evangeline" and its curator. The seventh child of Raoul and Lucille Paradis of Frenchville, Françoise Paradis is a psychologist and a passionate advocate for Franco-American and Acadian culture. In addition to producing the "Spirit of Evangeline" exhibit, she has also produced a lavishly illustrated new edition of the poem, Evangeline, as well as a children's coloring book version.

"Evangeline is the touching story of young lovers separated during the deportation of Acadians from their homeland in 1755," said curator Paradis. "It is a tale of faithfulness and constancy, but most importantly a story of survival - the survival of a people who faced rejection, homelessness, hunger, and other adversities wherever they were disembarked along the Eastern seabord of the Unived States. Longfellow's poem, Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie gave Acadians a mirror through which they could recognize themselves and come together as a people. The spirit of Evangeline lives in the hearts and culture of the Acadians."

All events are free and open to the public. For further information, please contact Archives Director Lisa Ornstein at (207) 834-7536.

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