MI'KMAW HISTORY
- KEJIMKUJIK: COMMEMORATION

 

In 1994, a submission was made by Parks Canada and the Mi'kmaq First Nation, recommending to the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada that Kejimkujik National Park be designated a National Historic Site of Canada. The recommendation stated that: 

"...the cultural landscape of Kejimkujik National Park, which attests to 4000 years of Mi'kmaq occupancy of this area, and which includes petroglyph sites, habitation sites, fishing sites, hunting territories, travel routes and burials, is of national historic significance..."

Cultural landscapes give us a sense of place, and bring to light our relationship with the land over time. Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site allows us to celebrate the wonderful union of cultural landscape and natural environment, while honouring the outstanding contribution of the Mi'kmaw people to the national heritage of Canada.

Commemoration 

As a result of the cultural landscape represented at Kejimkujik, the entire park (not including the Seaside Adjunct) was designated as a National Historic site in 1995, becoming the first National Park in Canada to have such a unique dual status. Two commemorative bronze plaques one in English and French and the other in Mi'kmawisi'mk were created to commemorate the designation, and were unveiled on Treaty Day, 1 October 2000. Parks Canada then commissioned a monument to hold the plaques, and passed the matter to the Mi'kmaw Network group for design selection. In the end, it was the design submitted by Muin'iskw that was deemed most fitting. In her own words:

"The form of the proposed monument was developed to represent the Mi'kmaw people and their history in the Kejimkujik area in as meaningful a way as possible. For this reason, each image used for the monument's features is drawn from the Mi'kmaw petroglyphs located within the park."

Commemorative monument (and its designer) at Merrymakedge

The overall shape chosen for the monument, which is larger than two meters in height, is based on the traditional woman's peaked hat, which is one of the most repeated themes in Kejimkujik's petroglyphs. Given the labour required to make these images, their frequency is a strong argument for their importance to the matriarchal Mi'kmaw culture. The monument is bordered with a repetitive curvilinear design, which was a common motif in clothing and art, and is representative of how the peaked cap would have been decorated.

The eight-pointed star adjacent to the plaques is a symbolic representation of the Mi'kmaw nation. Within each point is a figure, representing men and women, real and mythical, from the Mi'kmaw nation of the past. In addition, because the star is still used in contemporary Mi'kmaw culture, a link is also made between the past and the present.

Below the plaques are four framed petroglyph images, chosen to represent themes common in Mi'kmaw daily life. An image of the mythical Kulloo bird represents the rich Mi'kmaw story-telling tradition, which played an active role in their everyday life. A hunting scene features a long-vanished caribou, once a mainstay of the Mi'kmaw diet. A fishing scene depicts two men in a canoe, in pursuit of a porpoise. Finally, a single handprint, with superimposed images of male and female head-dress, was chosen to represent the Mi'kmaw family unit.

The design of the monument, with its multiple layers of significance, was given in trust to the artist, to be given in turn to the Mi'kmaw nation. Again in Muin'iskw's own words:

"This monument is for all Mi'kmaw People. Let it be a reminder of the past, healing for the present, and a promise for the future."

Kejimkujik - Preservation >>>

 
Updated: 27 Mar 2016 Print Page