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St George's Bay Mi'kmaq




The Meski'k Sipu children's group of Conne River performed at the Gros Morne National Park

THE GEORGIAN

GROS MORNE, Nfld. The Meski'k Sipu children's group of Conne River performed at the Gros Morne National Park Discovery Centre in Woody Point on Aug. 17. They were participating in an interpretive program called "Survival of Our Nation."

The Gros Morne National Park Discovery Centre was the scene of an evening filled with Mi'kMaq culture, history, language and traditions on Aug. 17, as youth from both the Flat Bay and Conne River Bands presented an interpretive program entitled, "Survival of Our Nation."

Lots of interest in presentation

The evening included a pictorial presentation by Deann Bennett, a Young Canada Works student with Parks Canada, and Level III student from Appalachia High in St. George's.

Speaking to a standing-room-only crowd of about 170 people, Ms. Bennett gave an overview of the Mi'kMaq presence in the province. She explained that her birth place - the predominantly Mi'Kmaq village of Flat Bay in Bay St. George - is the earliest recorded home of her people in the province, dating as far back as 1722. "We are dispersed throughout the Island of Newfoundland over ten Bands, including Flat Bay, St. George's, Indian Head, Port au Port, Corner Brook, Benoit's Cove, Gander Bay, Glenwood, Exploits and Conne River," she said.

Ms. Bennett said that to survive in a European system, the Mi'Kmaq elders and leaders tried to hide their heritage and even tried to forget it.

"Out of this comes one of the major reasons why so many people throughout the Island are only just discovering they are of Mi'Kmaq heritage.

"But today there has been a revival in our culture. We have become proud of the fact, and can say with dignity, that we are Mi'Kmaq." (pronounced mig maw)

Musical performance

The evening also included a musical performance by children of the Miawpukek First Nation (Conne River) under the direction of Mrs. Brenda Jeddore. The group of 13 drummers and dancers, all between the ages of 8-11 years, is known as "Meski'k Sipu," which translates to Big River."

Children of the Miawpukek First Nation (Conne River) carry out a musical performance at Woody Point. Under the direction of Mrs. Brenda Jeddore, the group of 13 drummers and dancers is known as "Meski'k Sipu," which translates to "Big River".

A teacher of music to First Nation children since 1980, Mrs. Jeddore explained that her group emerged as part of the regular musical education program at their school, Se't Aneway First Nations.

"This group sings ancient chants that reflect the essence of their being," said Mrs. Jeddore.

"The theme of all their repertoire is caring, sharing and respect."

Music for the evening included the Mi'kMaq Honour Song, a Mohawk-Mi'Kmaq Peace Chant, the Gathering Song, a Children's hant, the Reflection Chant and a Mi'Kmaq Lullaby. The chlildren's group also performed the Round Dance.

Poster project

Maggie John, Parks Canada Aboriginal Affairs co-ordinator, said "Survival of Our Nation" was one of the most popular presentations in the national park this summer.

Deann Bennett of St. George's made a presentation on Mi'Kmaq culture at an interpretive program entitled, "Survival of Our Nation." It took place on Aug. 17 at the Gros Mome National Park Discovery Centre in Woody Point.

"Parks Canada is very proud to work with all of the province's aboriginal communities to ensure that the commemoration of their culture is celebrated in our national parks and national historic sites," said Ms. John.

She also said to watch for the launch of a new poster series entitled Aborigina Peoples of Newfoundland and Labrador.

This project was led by Parks Canada's partners at its national historic sites, the Historic Sites Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, in collaboration with the province's Innu, Innuit, Metis, and Mi'kMaq. The posters will be used as an educational resource in the provincial school curriculum.

Source: The Georgian Newspaper, Bay St. George, NL. August 26 to Sept 1, 2003





Copyright 2003 Jasen Benwah