Celebrating Mi’kmaq culture during Heritage Day

Gautreau, Goodwin lead Seven Directions ceremony at fossil centre


Published on February 21, 2017

Emile Gautreau and Louis Goodwin led a ceremony celebrating the Seven Directions during Heritage Day at the Joggins Fossil Centre on Monday.

©Darrell Cole - TC Media

JOGGINS, N.S. – The Joggins Fossil Centre celebrated Mi’kmaq culture during Heritage Day on Monday.

Spiritual leaders Emile Gautreau and Louise Goodwin led a ceremony celebrating the Seven Directions while also talking about Mi’kmaq culture, traditions and song.

“It’s a ceremony to thank the spirits for life and for the wisdom we have in our life, to make us understand that we’re part of the earth. We are all children of the earth,” Gautreau said.

Gautreau said the east is the direction of wisdom, south is the direction of life, west the direction of strength, north is the direction of purity while the ceremony also prayed to Mother Earth and the sky, including the sun and the moon.

“It’s a very important ceremony, probably our most important,” Gautreau said.

Both Gautreau and Goodwin have led ceremonies across Canada celebrating the country’s First Nation’s culture and traditions. They have offered guided walks and shared nature experiences over a number of years to a wide range of schools, community gatherings, outdoor leadership programs and parks and museums for First Nations, Metis, Inuit and federal and provincial governments.

Laurie Glenn Norris said the presentation is an example of the work the Joggins Fossil Centre is doing in the community to bring understanding and awareness of Canada’s history and its different cultures.

“It’s a way to honour the people, places and events that have contributed to this province and Canadian heritage,” she said.

As part of Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations, she said, Heritage Day in Joggins is celebrating Nova Scotia’s Mi’kmaq culture.

Cumberland South MLA and PC leader Jamie Baillie said it’s “very appropriate” to celebrate Mi’kmaq culture during Heritage Day.

He said that while many know Joggins as the home of the UNESCO recognized fossil cliffs, there is also a substantial Mi’kmaq history in the community, which got its name, Chegoggin, from the Mi’kmaq phrase place of fishing weirs.

“There are so many people today looking for a new spirituality or a return to a more spiritual lifestyle,” Baillie said. “We don't have to look very far, in fact we can look to our Mi’kmaq brothers and sisters to see a spirituality that has been built up over thousands of years that we really should celebrate and take some time on Heritage Day to learn a bit more about.”

darrell.cole@tc.tc

Twitter: @ADNdarrell