A Step Towards Reconciliation
Last summer the Canoe Cove Community Association made a plan to recognize the First Nation people and history in our small rural community. Our idea was to add a “Welcome” sign in Mi’kmaq to the three road signs on the highways leading into Canoe Cove.
We consulted with Mi’kmaq Elder Doreen Jenkins, a resident of Canoe Cove, and with Abegweit First Nation Chief Brian Francis. After learning the correct Mi’kmaq translation, local artists JoDee Samuelson and Mari Basiletti painted the words “Pjila’si Suomane’ Katik” on cedar boards and attached them to the existing roadside welcome signs. The Mi’kmaq words translate into English as “Welcome to the place where beech nuts are plentiful”. Indeed, there are still many beech trees in this south shore area of Prince Edward Island!
After the signs were installed we decided to hold a special event to celebrate the recognition of Mi’kmaq history in Canoe Cove, and on June 23rd we held our First Nation Recognition and Celebration in the historic Canoe Cove School.
The event began with participants gathered outside in a large circle for a sweet grass smudge by Marjorie Lewis Paul. Elder Doreen Jenkins assisted with the ceremony and offered a prayer before we all went into the school to enjoy a potluck dinner. One of the highlights of the dinner was the delicious bannock made by Marjorie Lewis Paul.
Before supper Chief Brian Francis spoke and gave praise to all community members present for our endeavors to acknowledge and celebrate the fact that the Mi’kmaq were the first people on Prince Edward Island. In his speech Chief Brian said, “The Mi’kmaq signage and community First Nation recognition celebration are small but important steps in the process of reconciliation.”
District 17 MLA and Green Party leader Peter Bevan-Baker also gave a short speech before dinner. He spoke of the significance of the community spirit in Canoe Cove and shared how the sweet grass ceremony affected him. “It was so good to slow down and feel the blessings of the sweet grass smudging,” said Bevan-Baker.
More than 50 people of all ages from Canoe Cove and surrounding communities attended this First Nation Recognition event. We were honoured to have Lennox Island First Nation Chief Matilda Ramjuttan join us. We challenge other communities on the Island to find ways to celebrate the Mi’kmaq history and culture in their own areas. As Chief Brian said: “It is a small but important step in the process of reconciliation.”
The Association holds a number of events throughout the year, in co-ordination with the Canoe Cove Women's Institute. The focus is to promote community spirit and socialising. We have been operating for over ten years and have built up a list of "annual" events in the interest of creating or resurrecting community traditions. You can find upcoming events in the Events & Activities section
Here is a number of photos of previously hosted events - we are always looking for more photos - if you have them - let us know (and don't forget to tell us who is on the photo and when it was taken!)
Here are some snapshots from the day!
Bean Supper, 2006
Crimes of the Heart, 2000
An intimate affair!
Chinese New Year (WI), 2007
Kim MacLean awarding the prizes
Gordon Frizzell sharing his prize - Brook Brady's Chocolate Cake - Yum!
Cindy MacKenzie with her winning entry