Today on Pjilasi Mi’kma’ki, thanks to the magic of audio sound effects, intrepid host Annie Clair travels back in time to investigate traditional governance structures as they existed in pre-contact times. (Click here to listen to the episode now)
With the assistance of knowledgable guests such as Roger Lewis, curator of ethnology at the Nova Scotia Musuem, Don Awalt, Mi’kmaq historian and genealogist, and Russell Julian and Ron Knockwood, members of the modern-day Mi’kmaq Grand Council, Annie embarks on a voyage of discovery that traces and isolates the impacts of colonial and Catholic influences upon Mi’kmaq governance.
It’s a fascinating look at the manner in which an entire governance structure was designed around glusuaqan, which translates roughly into ‘speaking words’, and how this steadily was undermined through a colonial system that rewarded complicit behaviour. Moving back to the present day, this episode highlights the importance of keeping oral history alive, but also the dangers of ‘getting it wrong’, especially when dealing with the Canadian government in Treaty-based legal cases.
“We need to go back to our elders,” says Clair. “We need to go to them to get that knowledge and to learn the things that are not kept in museums. They’re the ones that have our history and our oral traditions.”