Celebrating Mi’kmaq History Month
No matter where you live, the land you call home has its roots in Indigenous history. Indigenous peoples were the first to live and hunt on it, to forage it and cultivate it, to fish in the rivers and seas, and to steward the balance and well-being of its ecosystem for future generations.
The region that includes the province we call Nova Scotia, in addition to Prince Edward Island, part of the Gaspé Peninsula, Newfoundland, and most of New Brunswick, is also known as Mi’kma’ki: home to the Mi’kmaq, this region’s Indigenous people.
Despite the centuries of Indigenous history and culture steeped here and throughout the rest of the world, colonization has resulted in a complex history strife with Indigenous mistreatment and erasure. Over time, Indigenous languages, traditional ways of knowing, and important cultural practices have been deeply suppressed, and in some cases, tragically lost.
As an organization whose mission is to help immigrants build a future in Nova Scotia, it’s important to us to do what we can to contribute to our collective knowledge and promote truth. The more we know about, respect, and appreciate Mi’kmaq history, as well as our responsibilities to reconcile the past, to foster strong relationships with the Mi’kmaq, to maintain their careful stewardship of Mi’kma’ki, and to move forward in peace and friendship, the better we can build a future where all can belong and grow.
To that end, and to celebrate this year’s Mi’kmaq History Month, we’ve compiled some helpful background as well as what we believe are terrific resources to help you learn about, teach about, and appreciate Mi’kmaq history, as well as the gifts of Mi’kmaq culture.
In honour of this year’s theme – Mi’kmaw beadwork and the art of beading – we’ve also highlighted artists and stories of artists who are carrying forward this sacred art form. Lastly, we’ve compiled a list of events that you can take part in.
Happy Mi’kmaq History Month!
Mi’kmaq History Month: some background and the theme for 2022
In 1993, as one way to begin the long road toward reconciliation, Nova Scotia dedicated October as an official month to recognize and celebrate Mi’kmaw culture and heritage. Each October, community activities, events, and the sharing and showcasing of Mi’kmaw history take place across Nova Scotia. Everyone is encouraged and welcome to participate in the month’s events.
This year’s Mi’kmaq History Month focuses on Mi’kmaw beadwork and the art of beading. As described by the Mi’kmaq History Month Committee – who oversee and plan the month’s themes each year – Mi’kmaw beadwork is “perfected through process and vision,” as it “represents life and creation. Generations of hands, eyes, backs, and fingers have worked for balance in intricate designs and colour palettes.”
Be sure to visit mikmaqhistorymonth.ca to learn all about this beautiful and skilled practice, as well as much more about the importance of Mi’kmaq History Month. Buy this year’s poster, and check back for updates on this year’s events, as well as future ones.
Beadwork artists you should follow
In the spirit of this year’s theme for Mi’kmaq History Month, here is a list of some very talented Mi’kmaw and other Indigenous beadwork artists you should follow. These artists are honouring their cultural tradition by carrying it on in new, creative ways.
L’nu beadwork artist Alex Antle, a member of Qalipu First Nation located in Elmastukwek, Ktaqmkuk (Bay of Islands, Newfoundland).
Ashley Sometimes Beads
Mi’kmaw beadwork artist from Kjipuktuk (Halifax).
Beaded Creations by Marissa
Mi’kmaw handmade beadwork by Marissa Bernard, made in Mi’kma’ki (Nova Scotia).
The Beads Knees
Designs by Mel Beaulieu, Mi'kmaw (Metepenagiag First Nation) and French beadwork artist, living on wolastoqiyik territory.
Reconnecting one bead at a time by Chelsea based in Kjipuktuk/Halifax.
More Mi’kmaw social media accounts and websites you should check out
In addition to Mi’kmaw and other Indigenous artists, you should also follow these great accounts to learn more about Mi’kmaq culture – the breadth of its practices, teachings, and ways of knowing – as well as Mi’kmaq Treaty Day. Stay up to date on places and events happening in local First Nations communities, too.
Through photography, embark on a journey of cultural and natural discovery with the Mi'kmaq People of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Millbrook Cultural and Heritage Centre
A local historical museum located in Millbrook First Nation, a Mi'kmaq community within the town of Truro.
Indigenous Youth Outreach
A not-for-profit program to improve immediate and long-term social, economic, and health outcomes for indigenous youth living off reserve in NS.
Mi'kmawey Debert Cultural Centre
Dedicated to sharing, protecting and exploring the stories and lives of our earliest ancestors and those who have come after them in Mi’kma’ki.
Membertou Community provides the latest news and updates, upcoming events and deadlines, employment opportunities and initiatives in Membertou First Nation.
Local events to take part in this month
There are always great events taking place in all corners of HRM and Nova Scotia for Mi’kmaq History Month. Here are just some you should consider, and we encourage you to check the events calendars of your local communities, too.
Ta'n me'j Tel'keknuo'ltiek: How Unique We Still Are
This exhibit, at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, reflects how Mi’kmaw people remain connected to the lands and waters of Mi’kma’ki. Featuring Mi'kmaw historian and guest curator, Salina Kemp, it offers a platform for Mi’kmaw people to express their continued experiences with an understanding of the lands and the waters of Mi’kma’ki.
Learn more at the Maritime Museum of Atlantic’s website. As they explain, this exhibit “share[s] truths – happy truths, hard truths – that can help us all, as Treaty People, move closer to meaningful reconciliation.”
Tourism Nova Scotia also shares photos of the exhibit and some more great background: “Ta'n me'j Tel'keknuo'ltiek: How Unique We Still Are offers the visitor, especially the non-Indigenous Canadian public, opportunities for fundamental treaty education, and to learn about the truths that must precede reconciliation.”
Moving in Mi’kma’ki
A new community workshop series led by Eskasoni First Nation dance artist Sarah Prosper. The workshops are free and open to people of all ages and skill levels – no previous dance experience required.
Upcoming dates: downtownhalifax.ca/event/moving-mikmaki
Stories and resources
Lastly, you’ll find below some inspiring and very helpful stories, tools, and resources that you can use to learn – or even teach! – about current beading initiatives, what beading is, and what Indigenous territories exist globally. Enjoy!
Mi'kmaw artists use Nike high-tops to bring beadwork to next generation
Read the CBC article here: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/mi-kmaw-artists-use-nike-high-tops-to-bring-beadwork-to-next-generation-1.5967380
Do you know what beading is?
Find the CBC Kids resource here: https://www.cbc.ca/kids/articles/do-you-know-what-beading-is
An extensive digital map of Indigenous territories, treaties, and languages. Non-Indigenous people are invited and challenged to learn more about the lands they inhabit, the history of those lands, and how to actively be part of a better future going forward together.
Bridging the gap between Indigenous people and newcomers
The National Newcomer Navigation Network is for providers who help newcomers navigate the complex Canadian healthcare and social service systems. On their blog, they've curated a list of webinars, reading materials, and other resources to help service providers build bridges and strengthen relationships between Indigenous people and newcomers.
If you help newcomers in your work – whether through service provision, teaching, or in other ways – this will be a comprehensive resource to you.
Blog post: www.newcomernavigation.ca/en/news/bridging-the-gap-between-indigenous-people-and-newcomers
ISANS’ webpage dedicated to Truth and Reconciliation
As part of our commitment to equity, truth, and reconciliation, throughout the year, we share resources on Mi’kmaq culture and heritage that are helpful for both immigrants and long-established Nova Scotians. These resources are accompanied by the beautiful artwork of Mi’kmaq artists.
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