36th Annual Treaty Day, Op-Ed
Treaties are living documents that set out long-standing promises, mutual obligations, and benefits for the signing parties. The Peace and Friendship treaties between the Crown and Mi’kmaq signed in the 1700s continue to act as a foundation for our connection to one another. They help build meaningful relationships based on co-operation, understanding and respect.
Saturday, October 1, is Treaty Day in Nova Scotia. Established 36 years ago by the late Kji Sagmaw (Grand Chief) Donald Marshall, Sr., the day celebrates the signing of the treaties and commemorates the unique relationship between the Mi’kmaq and the Crown. The day also marks the beginning of Mi’kmaq History Month.
Because communities are still recovering from hurricane Fiona, a collaborative decision was made to postpone celebrations planned to mark Treaty Day until a better time.
My thoughts are with the people and communities still dealing with the impact of the hurricane. It is heartening to see the resiliency and sense of community as neighbours step up to support each other at this challenging time.
On Treaty Day this year, the new Mi’kmaw Language Act takes effect. Proclaimed in Potlotek on July 17, the legislation recognizes Mi’kmaw as Nova Scotia’s first language and is another important step on the path toward reconciliation.
The Mi’kmaw Language Act reinforces the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action for governments to preserve, promote, revitalize and protect Aboriginal languages through legislation and education. I look forward to working collaboratively with Mi’kmaw leadership, organizations and communities in the months ahead to develop and bring forward a plan for government action to help ensure meaningful access to the Mi’kmaw language.
Language is a vital part of cultural identity and through initiatives like Treaty Education Nova Scotia, all Nova Scotians have the opportunity to learn who the Mi’kmaq are, historically and today. As we learn about our shared history, we gain more knowledge and understanding of what it means to be a treaty person. Working together connects us to the past and present and helps build a province that is stronger and more diverse for generations to come.
The theme for Mi’kmaq History Month 2022 is Mi’kmaw beadwork and the art of beading. This month recognizes the cultural significance of this traditional art form and highlights the skill and dedication of artisans who create beautiful works and share their knowledge with others.
As we celebrate Mi’kmaq History Month here in Mi’kma’ki, I encourage all Nova Scotians to attend a community event when there is an opportunity and join in the celebration.
Wi’kipatmu’k Mi’kmawey (Honouring of the Mi’kmaw Way).