Teaser: Ancient Land, New Land by AJB Johnston and Jesse Francis
“Imagining the People of Skmaqn – Port-la-Joye – Fort Amherst
Vignette — 1758
There is no name for what I feel. It is beyond words. At least, any words I have ever heard, and I’ve been seventy years on this earth.
Once, I thought I had lived through my share of sorrows. One of my children died in childbirth, back in Cobequid many years ago. And again, that day eleven years later when my husband fell through the ice and was lost. But these past four years have been worse. Much worse.
It began in 1755. Every single person I knew and loved, and thousands of other Acadians I had never met, were uprooted. Most, including my children and grandchildren, who were living near Fort Beauséjour when the enemy soldats herded them onto ships. Others, lucky ones like me, we ran before any soldiers arrived. Lucky ones? I’m no longer sure about that. That escape was dreadful. We were always looking over our shoulders to see who followed, and with no possessions other than what we could carry.
Over to Île-Saint-Jean we fled. It was un grand dérangement. Me and hundreds of others. Thousands in all. Life here has been hardship and despair, living in rough shelters with barely enough to eat.
And now this: Louisbourg has fallen, and the ships and soldiers have come. They’ve come for every Acadian on Île-Saint-Jean. It feels like an enormous weight, like an anchor plunging to watery depths. And that anchor is centred in me. In my chest. Then it invades my head, and fills my arms and my legs.”
–Excerpted from Ancient Land, New Land by AJB Johnston. Published by Acorn Press. Acornpresscanada.com