Message from the Chair: Mi’kmaq History Month
Each year, Mi’kmaw history and culture are celebrated across Nova Scotia throughout the month of October. Beginning with Treaty Day on October 1, we look back at early steps taken by our ancestors toward peace and friendship, and look ahead to our continuing journey towards change, reconciliation and understanding.
Mi’kmaw rights have historically been denied, and in many instances, violated. Many Nova Scotians are aware of the atrocities of residential schools and the legacy of environmental racism that have torn our communities apart. Despite centuries of abuse, the Mi’kmaq remain as a nation, people who help one another. We are a nation whose traditions and connection to this land remain strong.
As Mi’kmaw people continue to seek implementation of our treaty rights under Canadian and international law, tensions may arise between communities due to a lack of understanding or awareness of Nova Scotian and Mi’kmaw history and culture. The reaction from the recent launch of one First Nation’s Mi’kmaq moderate livelihood fishery is an example of this type of tension. In these instances, we must educate ourselves of this history and respond from a place of peace and friendship, not dispute. It is in the spirit of peace and friendship that we all must commit to seeking understanding and awareness together.
As we honour Mi’kmaw history this month I encourage everyone to take advantage of resources and events, celebrate and learn more about our people, customs, and communities.
Cheryl Knockwood, Chair
Ms. Knockwood was appointed to the Commission in 2015 and subsequently appointed chair in 2019. She is s a lawyer and currently works for the Membertou First Nation as its governance co-ordinator. She has also taught Aboriginal and Treaty Rights at Cape Breton University. She lives in Sydney.