A ceremony to commemorate the treaty relationship between the Crown and the Mi’kmaw Nation was held at Government House in Halifax today, Nov. 23.
The ceremony, co-hosted by Lt.-Gov. J.J. Grant and Mi’kmaw Grand Chief Benjamin Sylliboy, is one of several steps in educating all Nova Scotians on our collective role as treaty people in the province.
“Tonight’s ceremony reinforces the special bond that exists between the Crown in Nova Scotia and the Mi’kmaw Nation,” said Lt.-Gov. Grant. “Although over 250 years old, the treaties of peace and friendship continue to define the relationship between all Nova Scotians as we are all treaty people.”
“I am pleased that the Crown has reached out to the Mi’kmaw Grand Council in hopes of reconciliation and acknowledgement that we are all treaty people,” said Grand Chief Sylliboy. “The Mi’kmaw treaties will continue to be integral in the future relationship between Nova Scotia and the representative of the queen.
“We are convinced that the relationship the treaties represent can guide the way to a shared future in Canada and Nova Scotia. The relationship provides mutual rights and responsibilities that will ensure Mi’kmaq and Nova Scotians can together enjoy benefits now and into the future.”
During the ceremony, recent Order of Nova Scotia recipient Elder Doug Knockwood offered an opening prayer and smudging ceremony. In addition, the Samqwan Boyz of Millbrook First Nation sang the Mi’kmaw honour song to mark the historic event.
Nova Scotia has several historic treaties with the Mi’kmaw dating back to the 1720s. The commemoration of the peace and friendship treaties is significant in showing the willingness of Nova Scotians to embrace the relationship.
The Mi’kmaw consider treaties to be sacred covenants. The significance of the treaties is not only the words contained in the documents, but in the conversations and ceremonies that accompanied the negotiations, establishing meaningful relationships between themselves and newcomers to their traditional lands.
During the ceremony, the recently digitized copies of the peace and friendship treaties were unveiled. Prepared by the Nova Scotia Archives, the treaties may be accessed online by going to http://novascotia.ca/archives/mikmaq/.