Statement from the Chair: Mi’kmaq History Month

Oct 01, 2022

Each year, Mi’kmaq 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 understanding, change, and reconciliation.

Throughout October we are invited to explore the treaties and the treaty relationship at the foundation of our lives in Mi’kma’ki, the unceded Mi’kmaw territory that encompasses Nova Scotia.

While Nova Scotians may be aware of the atrocities of colonialism such as residential schools and the legacy of environmental racism that have torn our communities apart, many remain unfamiliar with our rich and enduring traditions and culture. To highlight one such tradition, the Mi’kmaq History Month Committee announced Mi’kmaw Beadwork & the Art of Beading as the theme for this year’s Mi’kmaq History Month poster.

Despite centuries of abuse, the Mi’kmaq remain as a nation of 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 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. It is in the spirit of peace and friendship that we all must commit to seeking understanding and awareness together.

On Treaty Day this year the Mi'kmaw Language Act will take effect following its announcement in July. This legislation recognizes Mi'kmaw as Nova Scotia's first language and will support efforts to protect and revitalize it.

As we honour Mi’kmaq history this month, I encourage everyone to take advantage of resources and events, and to celebrate and learn more about our people, customs, and communities.

Cheryl 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.

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