Inducted on November 12, 2016
Entrepreneur, director and marketer at various universities and historical, tourism and cultural organizations, Claude Boudreau, born in 1967 in Edmundston, is a proud 12th-generation Acadian from New Brunswick, Canada. His family tree includes branches of Boudreau, Aucoin, Chiasson, and Arsenault, just to name a few. After the Acadian Deportation in 1755, some of his ancestors were the founders of the Acadian Village of Cheticamp, on Cap Breton Island and, in the early part of the 17th century, some settled in Port Royal, then the first settlement in the colony of Acadie.
Boudreau wrote his Aucoin family history at the age of 14 and followed up with the Boudreau family saga a year later. He credits his maternal grandparents Freddie and Lucy Aucoin—principally by the many stories told to him and their way of life—for instilling in him the passion he has today for his Acadian ancestors and Acadian pride.
Boudreau graduated cum laude from the University of Ottawa with a bachelor of commerce degree and then went on to acquire a master of business administration (M. B. A.) from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. He then worked for more than 20 years as business and marketing director for cultural organizations and universities such as the University of Ottawa and at the Université du Québec in Gatineau, before moving to Memramcook, New Brunswick in 2007.
At the age of 26, after a year of research, Boudreau went on a journey of personal discovery to France to experience and explore the land of his Acadian ancestors. For him, this trip was a second Acadian awakening. Since 1999, he has participated in all of the Congrès mondial acadiens. It was during his first Congrès—held in Louisiana—that he met his life partner, Jean Gaudet.
From 2007 to 2016 he managed the Monument-Lefebvre National Historic site in Memramcook, New Brunswick. The site is dedicated to the promotion of the Acadian Renaissance which started in the 1860s and partly due to Boudreau's work, is still progressing and developing today. The Monument, is the home of the Acadian Odyssey Exhibit and of the only Acadian historical theater. The theater is considered by many as the Acadian "Carnegie Hall," a venue where all Acadian artists strive to perform at one point in their careers. Under Boudreau's leadership, over 120,000 people have visited the exhibit or attended a concert at the historic site. The Monument-Lefebvre was officially twinned with the Acadian Memorial of St. Martinville during the 2009 Congrès mondial acadien in Caraquet, New Brunswick and at the 2011 Grand Réveil Acadien in Louisiana.
For several years, the Acadian Museum has collaborated with Boudreau in helping to fulfill their mutual mission: promotion of Acadian heritage and culture. His tours are regularly hosted in Erath for Cajun music, meals and museum tours. On two occasions, the Monument-Lefebvre has hosted speakers from the Acadian Museum, including Jean-Robert Frigault, Kermit Bouillion, Warren and Mary Perrin, and then-Rep. Stephen Ortego.
In 2011, Boudreau realized a 20-year-old dream of helping Acadians from his region discover the breadth and scope of the international Acadian Diaspora by organizing his first tour group to Louisiana for the Grand Réveil Acadien. The following year, he brought a group to France to "walk in the footsteps of their ancestors." The demand for his Louisiana and France tours grew very quickly, and in 2014 he founded Les Voyages Diaspora Acadie, an Acadian tour company for Acadians from around the world who wanted to travel together to discover other Acadian destinations and meet Acadians from these areas. His other Acadian destinations include, the French islands of Saint-Pierre & Miquelon, the Îles de la Madeleine in Québec, the French island of Martinique, and Acadian sites on the American East Coast, from Boston to Virginia. The unique mix of Acadian history, culture, music, food, humor, architecture and people contribute to the success of these uniquely Acadian travel experiences. Boudreau has learned that Acadians from around the world are wonderful travelers. Members of his pilgrimages have made amazing discoveries and developed long-lasting friendships during these trips.
Although he has many other Acadian-related projects in the works, Boudreau is now fully dedicated to his Acadian travel project. As of today, 500 Cajuns and Acadians from Canada, the U.S. and France have traveled under his guidance and leadership.