Exploring Our Histories

Clifford Paul and Gerald Gloade visit sites in Unama’ki for the Kluskap Stories project.

“Exploring Our Histories” is one of the program areas of the future Mi’kmawey Debert Cultural Centre project. Its focus is to create opportunities that allow Mi’kmaw people to not only ask our own research questions, but to answer them as well. The aim of the program is to strengthen and to validate our own understandings of the past, and in doing so, ground our communities in our rich and long history. By using a combination of traditional knowledge from the community, and historical sciences like archaeology and geology, we are able to understand the world in a holistic way. As Elder Judy Bernard-Julian states, “My choice is to learn.”

Although the Centre is not yet built, we have been exploring our histories since the project began more than ten years ago. This website shares little glimpses into our ongoing projects which include gathering Elders stories; visiting museum collections in Canada and the United States; and trying to identify the geological sources for the rock we used to make our tools a long time ago. Other sections of the website share our recent Debert research as well as the Indian Residential School Legacy Project in more detail. We would love to hear your feedback, ideas and questions!


Elders’ Stories

Elder Douglas Knockwood (Indian Brook First Nation) has shared many stories with us about his life and his family beginning at Newville Lake and continuing through to the present. Here, in 2006, he stands at his Uncle Henry’s house in Newville Lake, NS.

Elder Douglas Knockwood (Indian Brook First Nation) has shared many stories with us about his life and his family beginning at Newville Lake and continuing through to the present. Here, in 2006, he stands at his Uncle Henry’s house in Newville Lake, NS.

The MDCC project has been continually gathering Elders’ stories for more than a decade. These films will be incorporated into exhibitions and programs at the future Centre. They will also be at the heart of the digital archives. Find samples of short clips here.


Mi’kmaw Collections

CMH Intern Peter Christmas (Membertou First Nation) and Elder Murdena Marshall (Eskasoni First Nation) visit collections at the Canadian Museum of History (CMH), January 2013.

CMH Intern Peter Christmas (Membertou First Nation) and Elder Murdena Marshall (Eskasoni First Nation) visit collections at the Canadian Museum of History (CMH), January 2013.

The project has spent the last five years reviewing collections at the Canadian Museum of History (CMH), the National Museum of the American Indian (USA), and the Nova Scotia Museum. Learn more here.


Kluskap Stories and Toolstone Sources

Leah Rosenmeier, MDCC Research and Interpretation Specialist, looks at some of the lithic material (i.e. rocks!) at Cape d’Or in July 2013.

Leah Rosenmeier, MDCC Research and Interpretation Specialist, looks at some of the lithic material (i.e. rocks!) at Cape d’Or in July 2013.

For more than eight years we have been compiling Kluskap Stories that convey knowledge about our physical world including important geological features such as the coal fields in Toney River or the lithic sources at Partridge Island. The Ancestors Live Here section of the website shares some of these important stories.


Indian Residential School Legacy Project

Elder Phyllis Googoo stands by the Indian Residential School Commemoration monument at Waycobah First Nation in December 2012 Waycobah, Nova Scotia.

Elder Phyllis Googoo stands by the Indian Residential School Commemoration monument at Waycobah First Nation in December 2012 Waycobah, Nova Scotia.

The MDCC is leading an IRS project to gather direction, guidance and contributions from survivors and their families for the future residential school exhibits, curriculum resources and programs at the MDCC. Learn more here.


Recent Research at Debert

Sharon Farrell, MDCC Curatorial Assistant, takes notes in front of a large glacial till deposit during one of several geological projects the MDCC has undertaken with geologist Dr. Ralph Stea and soil scientist Dr. Gordon Brewster. The yellow line marks the boundary between till and bedrock.

Sharon Farrell, MDCC Curatorial Assistant, takes notes in front of a large glacial till deposit during one of several geological projects the MDCC has undertaken with geologist Dr. Ralph Stea and soil scientist Dr. Gordon Brewster. The yellow line marks the boundary between till and bedrock.

The MDCC project has directed and grown new research at the Debert sites tying together decades of important work. You can learn more here.

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