Introduction to Mi'kmaw History Month and its significance
No matter where you live, the land you call home has its roots in Indigenous history. 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, the region’s Indigenous people.
Mi'kmaw History Month is an annual celebration that takes place in October, dedicated to recognizing and honouring the rich heritage and culture of the Mi'kmaw people. The celebration of Mi'kmaw History Month is part of a broader effort to promote education and awareness about Indigenous history that fosters dialogue and builds bridges between communities.
Participating in Mi'kmaw History Month also gives us all a chance to reflect on historical injustices faced by Indigenous peoples. 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’kmaw 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’kmaw History Month, we’ve compiled some resources to help you learn about, teach about, and appreciate Mi’kmaw history, as well as the gifts of Mi’kmaw culture.
Mi’kmaw History Month: some background and the theme for 2023
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’kmaw History Month focuses on Mi’kmaw sports, traditional games, and pastimes. For centuries, sports and games have grown Mi’kmaw ways of knowing and being. They are crucial for teaching young ones how to hear, how to see, and how to move.
Be sure to visit mikmaqhistorymonth.ca to learn all about different Mi’kmaw sports and why they are so important. Buy this year’s poster, and check back to watch a series of videos they will release throughout the month.
Local events to take part in this month
Every One Every Day has a variety of workshops and events taking place in October, such as sharing circles and bead-and-stich events. Check out their calendar: https://www.halifaxiseveryone.ca/sessions
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.
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’kmaw culture and heritage that are helpful for both immigrants and long-established Nova Scotians. These resources are accompanied by the beautiful artwork of Mi’kmaw artists.
Short film by Urban.Indigenous.Proud: That Old Game La Crosse
Available on National Film Board of Canada, That Old Game La Crosse is an 8-minute short film developed by Urban.Indigenous.Proud – a film project partnership between the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres and the National Film Board of Canada.
“Long before Canada became a country, every nation on Turtle Island had its own unique version of a stick-ball game. The most popular one on this continent has always been lacrosse, a game that was gifted to the First Nations by the birds and four-legged animals, and played for centuries as a medicine game. This short film explores how the medicine game that has been passed down from generation to generation by the Haudenasaunee at the Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre is helping to revive their cultures and restore their communities. Young people have always been at the centre of community for many First Nations societies, and this documentary shares the wisdom of cultivating the spirit of belonging in youth, revealing how this is helping to shape a new future.”
TV series Little Bird available to watch on Crave and APTN Lumi
Little Bird is a Canadian dramatic television series created by Indigenous women. Bezhig Little Bird was adopted into a Jewish family at the age of five, where she was stripped of her identity and became Esther Rosenblum. Now in her 20s, Bezhig longs for the family she lost and to fill in the missing pieces. Her quest lands her in the Canadian prairies where she discovers that she was one of the generation of children forcibly apprehended by the Canadian government through a policy, later coined the 60s Scoop.