Acadian Archives exhibit features more than 40 maps of Acadian heritage

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FORT KENT, Maine - A project started over 25 years ago, by a native of the Saint John Valley, now lies behind the doors of the Blake Library at the University of Maine at Fort Kent. And it's not just any project, it's one that's rich in Acadian culture.

"The more that I dwelled in it, the more I found about our rich, rich heritage," said Jacques LaPointe, who is a Franciscan Priest and the owner of this map collection.

The Acadian heritage. Jacques LaPointe was born in Van Buren and raised in St. Leonard. From a very young age he became interested in the Acadian culture, because much of what he read in school text books was negative.

"My history book when I was young was our British heritage, and the only things Acadians ever did was lose wars," said LaPointe.

He made a promise to himself that he would bring the reality of the Acadian culture to life, and he's done just that, with a collection of more than 40 maps, each one showing a different perspective of Acadian culture. The maps are now hung throughout the Acadian Archives at UMFK, a setting that President John Short says, is perfect.

"We are determined to preserve Acadian identity, culture, language, history, not only today but well into the future," said Short.

"For us in this area, it brings an important piece of credibility to the identity of Acadians and the possibility that Acadians was not a name that was derived out of thin air," said Lise Pelletier, who is the Director of the Acadian Archives at UMFK.

Aside from this collection, LaPointe has also written several books on Acadian history, but he says the maps are just another way to show the rich Acadian culture.

"I believe that these maps eventually could be the focus, if you could say the nucleus, or a larger collection, that could necessitate an expansion of the Acadian Archives," said LaPointe.

Maps that have come from all around the world, now all under one roof. A collection he could have just kept to himself, but one he hopes to educate others with, and help them answer the questions he once had.

The exhibit will stay open until January.