Université de Moncton to study call for new name shedding ties with British officer

MONCTON, N.B. — Officials with the Université de Moncton say they will study a request to change the school’s name after a petition asked that it shed its connection with an 18th-century British military officer involved in the imprisonment and deportation of Acadians.

University president Denis Prud’homme said in a statement released Friday that the school will examine the call for a name change during the next board of governors meeting in April.

Prud’homme said the analysis of the request is a sign the university is "responsive to its community and committed to societal transformation.”

“Considering that the name of the university reflects its identity, our objective remains to make the best decisions for the present and future interest of the institution and to do so in a rigorous and orderly manner,” Prud’homme added.

The petition that was started last week has gathered more than 1,000 signatures, including such prominent Acadians as novelist Antonine Maillet, singer-songwriter Edith Butler and filmmaker Renée Blanchar, as well as Cajun musician Zachary Richard from Louisiana.

Activist Jean-Marie Nadeau has said the Acadian community does not want the school to be associated with Robert Monckton, who played an active role in the deportation of Acadians from the Maritimes that began in 1755.

“We are incredibly happy with the university’s response. The future is looking bright,” Nadeau said in an interview on Friday. He interprets the response as a hopeful sign that a name change will finally happen.

“We have also asked for a special general meeting of the New Brunswick Acadian society, and they have agreed to meet on April 15. It’s all-around good news.”

The university draws its name from the city where its main campus lies, Moncton, N.B., which is named after Monckton. The city has a large Acadian population.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 10, 2023.

— By Marisela Amador in Montreal.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said the deportation of the Acadians took place after the end of the Seven Years' War.