This article was translated by John R. Bopp

Canadian public broadcaster CBC has brought us a fabulous report about two young Basque students working there in Nova Scotia, helping to spread Basque culture.  Their presence there is but the most recent display of Basque history dating back at least five centuries (though we’d daresay it goes back even longer),which we’ve blogged about in arcles about Basque whalers.

The Fortress of Louisbourg was an important fortified French town built on the orders of the King of France on what was then known as Île Royale and now as Cape Breton Island in English or Île du Cap Breton.

Louis XIV was looking to fortify the only territory still under his control after having signed the Treaty of Utrecht, which had given most of his territories over to the British in that part of North America.

This settlement, and its defenses, were totally destroyed in 1760.  Two centuries later, in 1961, the Canadian government took on the task of the historical reconstruction of a quarter of the town and its fortifications, with the intention of recreating it with the look and size it had in the 1740s

At that time, you could still find Basque fishermen and whalers in those waters, before the British kicked them out.  This was of the negative consequences of the Treaty of Utrecht for the Basques in both sides of the Pyrenees, despite the fact that the treaty respect their rights, especially in the case of those from the south, whose rights were protected in Article 15, where the Basques are called “Biscaynes” and they’re called “one of the peoples of Spain”.

To remember and share this Basque heritage in Canada, this legacy that remains not only among the Canadians of European origin, but also among the First Nations, two young women, both from South of the Pyrenees, have traveled there this year

They are Mirari Loyarte Aramburu, from Hernani, and Amets Aranguren Arrieta, from Pamplona.  In addition to Basque, they both speak Spanish, English, and French.  Their mission is to share the music, culture, history, and traditions of the Basques with visitors to the Fortress.

This project was brought about thanks to the collaboration of Parks Canada, the Basque Government’s Etxepare Institute, Cape Breton University, and auzarrea, the fund for the study and diffusion of Basque culture.

The news is brought to us by the CBC, in two formats.

On the one hand, we have the article by Brittany Wentzell, who’s reported on all aspects of this activity, including how it got started: a conference (which we’ve blogged about ourselves!) about those first years of relations between the Mi’kmaq people and the Basques who reached those shores chasing cod and whales.

We can only point out one niggle with the article, when she claims,

The Basque people live in northern Spain, but their language is unrelated to any other tongue on Earth.

Basques have lived in the territory we live in since time immemorial, and, at the moment, it is now under the administration of Kingdom of Spain and the Republic of France.  This claim is especially interesting in an article discussing the importance of the Basque presence in that area and their leading role in the development of the community, who, after the fortress fell to the English, returned to France or Spain.  If Basques went back to France, it was probably because they weren’t from Spain but rather from North of the Pyrenees.

Then, on the other hand, we have the audio report broadcast by the CBC, by the same journalist, interviewing the two young Basque women who are there (which was transcribed and translated by yours truly)

We also noticed in this case how the journalist fails to mention, or doesn’t seem to know, about the essential role the Basque whalers who came in from Labourd to hunt, alongside and in collaboration with the “Biscaynes” (from Biscay and Gipuzkoa).  Those from North of the Pyrenees also played a key role as corsairs and in shipbuilding.

Of course, these small lapses are less the fault of the journalist, and more the fault of how Basque history is split and hidden, unknown, and often “kidnapped”.  Therefore, we, as a nation, have so much work to do to claim our history and memory as our own.

CBC – 22/7/2019 – Canadá

New Louisbourg volunteers Basque in chance to share unique culture

A pilot project at the Fortress of Louisbourg in Cape Breton, N.S., aims to share the rich history of the Basque people, who played an important role in founding the community. While any visitor to the site will quickly learn the town was settled by the French, it’s not as obvious that Basque people also played a key role. Two volunteer interpreters from Spain’s autonomous Basque Country are changing that this summer.

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Cape Breton Post – 15/7/2019 – Canada

Visiting students remind Cape Bretoners of Basque influence on island’s history

Basque students Mirari Loyarte Aramburu, left, and Amets Aranguren Arrieta are shown in front of the Desroches building at the Fortress of Louisbourg site. Both are in Cape Breton to interpret the history and culture of the Basque people who came to the Fortress in the 18th century. CONTRIBUTED/PARKS CANADA – Contributed

Two students from the Basque Country are rekindling interest in a long-forgotten aspect of Cape Breton history. According to Eddie Kennedy, visitor experience manager at the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Park, the two students were chosen to interpret the history and culture of the Basque people who were present at the Fortress in the 18th century as well as share their culture and learn about the heritage of Cape Breton and the Fortress of Louisbourg.

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CBC – 22/7/2019 – Canadá

Reviving Basque culture to the Fortress of Louisbourg


Our current affairs reporter Brittany Wentzell introduces a couple of Basque students who are interpreting Basque culture and history at the Fortress of Louisbourg this summer. Also, hear from Eddie Kennedy, Visitor Experience Manager for Parks Canada.