Thursday, October 18, 2012

A+ for Mi'kmaq Schools in NS

“Our students going in are more confident”

There are 11 Mi’kmaq schools in Nova Scotia and about 2,900 First Nations students in the province. With support from Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey and additional resources from the province, even Mi’kmaq students who are going into the provincial schools “are having a lot more success.”  An annual report released this week shows that First Nations students are graduating from high school in Nova Scotia at a rate more than double the national rate of 35 per cent.

“Our students going in are more confident,” referring to Grade 12 students. “When they go in in the fall, they’re saying ‘This is the year I am going to graduate.’ And 89.3 per cent of them are graduating in June.”


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Treaty Day 2012 - Nova Scotia

"Treaty Day, held annually on October 1st, marks the beginning of Mi'kmaq History Month in Nova Scotia as proclaimed in 1993 by then Premier John Savage and Mi’kmaq Grand Chief Ben Sylliboy. The purpose of Treaty Day is to promote public awareness about the Mi’kmaw culture and heritage for all citizens of Nova Scotia." (Find out more.)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Proclamation Video Documentary

"On Treaty Day, the 1st day of October, 2008, the Chiefs and Councils of the 13 Mi'kmaw communities of Nova Scotia came together at Province House, the seat of the Nova Scotia Legislature in Halifax, to proclaim and assert the Nationhood of the Mi'kmaq of Nova Scotia over their traditional lands and waters. Through this Proclamation the Mi'kmaq Chiefs and Councils of Nova Scotia agreed to work together to develop a Mi'kmaw governance structure that unites and empowers our Nation to enhance the quality of life and well-being of our People. This documentary captures the feelings of the Assembly of Nova Scotia Chiefs after the Proclamation of Mi'kmaq Nationhood."

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Some Basic info about the Qalipu Band

Looking for some basic information about  the Creation of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation Ban? This page from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada gives some of the background, and answers the frequently asked questions.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Documentary celebrates Mi’kmaq identity in Flat Bay

"Production of the first ever documentary to celebrate the Mi’kmaq identity and way of life in the Flat Bay area is nearly complete."

“L’nug Aganutmaqan” (the native’s story), depicts survival through the hardships of living on the west coast of Newfoundland in communities situated between the Fishells and Flat Bay Rivers.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Legends and Mermaids

I was reading about Mi'kmaq legends and came across a reference to the Sabawaelnu ("water dwelling folk") or Halfway People. What a rich and interesting world my people inhabited! This is a story I knew nothing about, but has many resonances with Selkies from the Celtic side of my family.

[link to Sabawaelnu reference in "MicMac Indians of Eastern Canada"]

Monday, September 17, 2012

Election of Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band Council

First Election of Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band Council Set For October 23, 2012.
[Link here for more information]
(September 17, 2012 Corner Brook, NL) 

Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation will be holding its first election on October 23, 2012 for all positions on its band council – Chief, Central Vice Chief, Western Vice Chief and a Council for each of the nine wards throughout Newfoundland....


Friday, September 14, 2012

Carrying on "Irregardless": Humour in Contemporary Northwest Coast Art

Beau Dick: Laughter Mask, 1973. Collection of Steve Loretta. Photo: William Neville 
Explore humour in FN art

A new exhibition (on now until March 17) at the Bill Reid Gallery (SFU) explores the topic of humour in contemporary Aboriginal art. Group admission is $7 for adults and $3 for students.

"Works in "Irregardless" use humour, irony, parody and satire to challenge stereotypes and raise unexpected questions.
"The exhibition is co–curated by Peter Morin, in collaboration with the Gallery's Director of Content and Research, Dr. Martine J. Reid. Most of the 60 pieces in the exhibition were produced during the last 15 years and many have not previously been exhibited. They include a rich and provocative range of works—paintings, sculptures, drawings, masks, etchings, photographs, textiles, jewelry and video installations. Works in "Irregardless" were selected for their aesthetic qualities and their sense of fun and playfulness, the two main ingredients of humour. 


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Novel: "Mi'kmaq Song"

Fiction can be a great way to learn more about history and culture in an enjoyable format.

 Check out the first chapter of this novel "Mi'kmaq Song" by Pat Cher. (There are a number of glowing reviews about the book on her site.)
  "It began with a dream. "Come follow me." Gheeju, her Mi’kmaq grandmother, urged. Maggie didn't realize that to follow would mean plunging into uncharted wilderness ... Maggie captured by Abtatuk , a Mi’kmaq, finds her life turned upside down as she experiences the Mi’kmaq way of life; their legends, the Little People, the neighbouring Penobscot."

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Beautiful Haida Wall hanging

I'm at John Oliver Secondary for a Teacher Librarian workshop, but I just had to attach this picture of a beautiful Haida wall hanging in the entrance to the Learning Commons (library).

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

First Nations Carving - in the heart of the city.

We went to Granville Island recently for something to do on a sunny summer day, and came across a totem pole carving in progress. It was nice to see such fine craftsmanship. I believe the artist is Haida carver Clarence Mills.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Visiting other FN spaces

My wife and I spent some time up near Whistler this month. Nairn Falls is a beautiful location, spiritually important to the local peoples. It's great to get out and hike the trails.


We also visited the Squamish Nation centre in Whistler's Upper village.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

"Endangered Languages

Find out more about the "Endangered Languages project, and contribute to the language database if you have any facility with the Mi'kmaq language

"Humanity today is facing a massive extinction: languages are disappearing at an unprecedented pace. And when that happens, a unique vision of the world is lost. With every language that dies we lose an enormous cultural heritage; the understanding of how humans relate to the world around us; scientific, medical and botanical knowledge; and most importantly, we lose the expression of communities’ humor, love and life. In short, we lose the testimony of centuries of life." (From the "about" page)

Monday, April 30, 2012

Speaking and Texting Indigenously

Spark: Episode174 – March 4 & 7, 2012

I was very interested to hear the segment on "Spark" about Squamish language texting. I wonder if there are folks doing this in Mi'kmaq?

"Indigenous language activist Dustin Rivers blogs and podcasts to teach Squamish to youth whose parents and grandparents can’t speak the language. His big dream is to use the internet to create a new tribe of language speakers. (Runs 8:17)"

More on Dustin:


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Basic Facts for Kids (and others)

"Native American Facts For Kids" was written for young people learning about the Mi'kmaq for school or home-schooling reports. The site also has Mi'kmaq language and culture pages for in-depth information about the L'nu. The creators of the site have assembled answers to the questions they are most often asked by children.  

(The director and cofounder of Native Languages of the Americas is Laura Redish. The original owner of this site is Orrin Lewis. He is a Cherokee man who has done work in linguistic preservation with many Indian languages of Oklahoma. This site has an American perspective. There are a a number of ads.)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mi'kmaq Portraits Collection

I've been looking through a set of very interesting images in the Nova Scotia Museum's Mi'kmaq Portraits Collection. This is a database of more than 700 portraits and illustrations that provides a some insight into the history of the Mi'kmaq of Atlantic Canada. You can browse the images here. I think there are some great images for anyone looking to incorporate Mi'kmaq traditional designs into their artwork.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

NFB - Mi'kmaq Family (Migmaoei Otjiosog)

Watch this on the NFB site - very well done.

"This documentary takes you on a reflective journey into the extended family of Nova Scotia’s Mi'kmaq community. Revisiting her own roots, Mi'kmaq filmmaker and mother Catherine Anne Martin explores how the community is recovering its First Nations values, particularly through the teachings of elders and a collective approach to children-rearing. Mi'kmaq Family is an inspiring resource for both First Nations and non-Native audiences looking for ways to strengthen their own families and traditions."

Friday, January 20, 2012

What's in a name?

One of the important things we can do as a people is to honor those place names that Mi'kmaq have used for generations.

It may not be practical to rename every town, lake and mountain, but I think every Mi'kmaw should know at least some important place names in the original tongue.

Here's a document I found that lists many places alongside the Native equivalent: (some examples follow)


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Baskets as Culture

I heard a segment on a local CBC show recently that talked about basket weaving as a mainstay of Haida culture. One of the weavers said that it was learning how to weave hats in the style of his ancestors that reconnected him to his people and made him feel even more "Haida". It made me think about  Mi'kmaq art, and how I might rediscover it. I was browsing and found this site presenting Della Maguire, an artist who feels it's her responsibility to keep this art form alive. I guess it is true that these handicrafts are a way to reconnect us to our past and take traditional practices out of the museum and back into the sunlight. It's certainly a challenge to do this on the West Coast, so far from Ktaqamkuk! (The Big Island!)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

And yet more about the Language

I'm going to see if I can master some aspects of the Mi'kmaw language using the lessons on the Conne River site. They have lessons, videos, online quizzes and games. I'm hoping I can pick up some phrases to use with my kids.

Friday, January 13, 2012

More about the language

I am very interested in language and now more than ever, I want to be able speak at least a few words in Mi'kmaw. The M.A.C. site (Mi'kmaq Association for Culture) has a good overview of how the language has fared over the years. There are apparently on-line courses as well; I'll have to look into this!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Amazing Inventions and Innovations

Looks like a great book for school! A Native American Thought of It, Amazing Inventions and Innovations. by Rocky Landon with David MacDonald. 

"Guess who came up with the idea for diapers, hair conditioner and hockey? Find out more about the innovations by Native Americans for what are now everyday objects such as syringes, kayaks, maple syrup and even insect repellent."

Monday, January 9, 2012

Collection of Legends

I came across this facsimile of a collection of Mi'Kmaq legends transcribed by the Reverend Silas T. Rand. He lived for years among the Mi'Kmaq of Nova Scotia and spoke the language. While the introduction to his book reflects a Eurocentric view of the world, his transcriptions are a window into the culture.

Mi'kmaq Music

Leo Crema
The Beaton Institute of Cape Breton has a collection of Mi'kmaq music on their site as well  as an easy to follow overview of the culture.  Here's an excerpt from the site:

The selections chosen to showcase Mi'kmaw culture on this website fall into four broad categories: traditional songs, Catholic hymns, fiddle traditions, and contemporary works. The traditional songs largely draw upon the Ko'jua repertoire, a genre of dance music. The Catholic hymns can be divided into "old" and "new" traditions, where "old" refers to songs from the Gregorian chant tradition and "new" refers to more recent repertoire, such as "Immaculate Mary," that has been translated into Mi'kmaq.

The Mi'kmaw fiddle tradition demonstrates a diversity of playing styles and repertoires, including tunes from the standard repertoire, as well as the adaptation of traditional song to fiddle (as in Lee Cremo's playing of Ko'jua).

I know my son Nathan would be very interested in the fiddle connection as he plays a wide variety of traditional fiddle music. Here's a link to Leo Cremo page with him playing.

I've embedded a player below so you can listen without leaving the blog if you prefer.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Stone Canoe

Here's a great short animated film the tells in image and music the Mi'kmaq story of the Stone Canoe.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Mi'kmaq Language Instruction in NS

I was interested to see how well developed the Nova Scotian Department of Education policies are vis-à-vis the teaching of the Mi'kmaq language. In the "purpose" section of the document, the authors state that :
 "The Mi’kmaw/Miigmao community recognizes the need to reclaim and strengthen its language—-in homes, communities, and in schools. It is only through the pervasive use of the language that it will continue to live. The document provides the vision and structure for all subsequent Mi’kmaw/Miigmao language curriculum development."

Since the document dates from 2003,  I wonder how well Mi'kmaq instruction is faring in Nova Scotia today?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Mi'kmaq Creation Stories

Today, I happened across Debbie's blog (she is Mi'kmaw and lives in Boston) One of her posts has a link to an interesting site (Four Directions Teachings) that recounts creation stories from a variety of First Nations, including the Mi'kmaq. I enjoyed listening to the creation stories; they have such symbolic weight! (The animations are well done, and the stories are simply but reverently told.)