ORONO — Last week, Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, reflected upon the St. John Valley’s Acadian heritage at a roundtable led by Dr. Susan Pinette, a professor of modern language and director of the Franco-American Programs at the University of Maine. The roundtable followed the 2023 Maine Heritage lecture entitled “50 Years of Advocacy in Maine: Exploring the History of Franco-American Activism,” offered by Dr. Pinette.
“Some years ago, I brought my sons to the Fort Kent Blockhouse and we saw an old image of a student in a classroom writing ‘I will not speak French in school.’ Such punishments are reminders of a horrible time when the state of Maine sought to systematically rid the people of the St. John Valley of their French-Acadian heritage.
“Even though the ‘No French’ law was repealed, the damage it did has led to a continuing and saddening decline of French speakers in my district.
“Doing the hard work to keep the French-Acadian culture alive not only connects families to their heritage, it strengthens our communities. I was very glad to join a panel at the Canadian-American Center at UMaine this week to discuss the importance of preserving this culture for both my constituents and the entire state. I’m grateful to Dr. Susan Pinette for the lecture she gave on Franco-American activism, and for all her efforts to make sure a rich heritage is not forgotten.”