Presentations to examine Franco American experience of WWI, lasting effects

The University of Maine will host a series of presentations April 26 that will explore the lasting effects of World War I on Franco American communities.

“Franco Americans, Acadians, and the Great War” will be held 1–3 p.m. in Crossland Hall at the Franco-American Centre.

“Many Franco Americans served in WWI, and this spring marks 100 years since the first Red Scare, landmark pieces of linguistic and educational legislation in New England, and Franco Americans’ Worcester convention, whose resolutions reverberated northward to Maine,” says Susan Pinette, director of Franco American Programs at UMaine.

The panel also will look at the effects of WWI — mostly the rise of nationalism — on education policies, and how these affected the francophone community of the Saint John River Valley, according to Pinette.

Presentations will be made by Severin M. Beliveau, the Honorary Consul of France in Maine; Patrick Lacroix, a Franco American historian, author and instructor at Phillips Exeter Academy; Mark Richard, a Franco American historian and author, professor of history at SUNY Plattsburgh, and Spring 2019 Libra Visiting Diversity Professor at UMaine; and Elisa Sance, a UMaine graduate student who is pursuing a Ph.D. in history.

Beliveau will discuss “My Father’s Experience in World War I,” Lacroix will present “Arduous Ascent: Ethnic Transition in the Northeastern United States, 1914–1924,” Richard will speak on “‘It is not Necessary to be more American than the American Himself’: French Speakers Fight the Great War Abroad and at Home,” and Sance will present “‘The War has Taught us the Need of a More United People, Speaking One Language, Thinking One Tradition, and Holding Allegiance to one Patriotism — America’: Consequences of WWI on Education in the Saint John River Valley.”

David Vermette, a community-based historian and author of “A Distinct Alien Race: The Untold Story of Franco-Americans,” will serve as panel moderator and commentator.

The event is supported by the Jeannine Emond Lucey Franco American Program Fund, Canadian-American Center, History Department, Clement and Linda McGillicuddy Humanities Center, Department of Modern Languages and Classics, and a grant from the Cultural Affairs/Distinguished Lecture Series Fund.

The event marks the launch of the eighth annual “Rassemblement” of Franco American artists, writers and creatives. The annual event, organized by UMaine’s Franco American Programs, aims to create a culturally supportive space in which members of the Franco American creative community can share their work. More information, including scheduled activities, is online.