Without a doubt, the fact that the lazaret was located within the limits of its territory, the village, and later on, the town of Tracadie, was negatively affected both economically and socially.
In the early 70’s, the mayor of Tracadie, Camille Losier, had a memoire presented to the federal government, requesting that the town of Tracadie be compensated financially for its losses because of the presence of the lazaret within its territory. In the document, he emphasized the fact that the lazaret had taken in lepers, not only from surrounding communities, but also from other provinces of Canada «helping out the whole nation in an extraordinary way. »
Then, he gave examples of the negative reputation that Tracadie acquired. He quoted newspaper articles, such as the Montreal Star in 1900, the Halifax Chronicle in 1900 and the St John Globe in 1904.
He asserted that the small Acadian community suffered quite dramatically in its social and economic evolution due to the stigma that remained associated with leprosy and its dangers. According to him, at the time the document was written, citizens of Tracadie «remember well when the town’s inhabitants refused to walk on the side of the street where the hospital was located. » And he added: «They still quote the blueberry packers who had a canning industry in Tracadie ten years ago. They refused to label their products with the words «Product of Tracadie» because of the scary ideas people had about leprosy». (The Saint John Telegraph Journal, August 1969.)
Consequently, the mayor stated that this negative image had «hampered the potential of this community not only as a site for industrial development, but also, and more importantly, in the tourism industry. »
The account does not say if the federal government replied favorably to the mayor’s request. What we can say today is that there was a turnaround in public opinion in the late 70’s both locally and abroad, especially with the publication of the magnificent book « The Children of Lazarus» by Mary Jane Losier and Céline Pinet in 1984, translated by Jacques Picotte in 1987 and entitled « Les Enfants de Lazare » The town of Tracadie is honored today in welcoming those unfortunate victims of such a hated and scary disease, as testified by the success of the film « Les larmes du lazaret » (The tears of the lazaret).