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UNB celebrates National Indigenous Peoples Day at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery

Author: UNB Newsroom

Posted on Jun 21, 2019

Category: UNB Fredericton

The University of New Brunswick’s Mi’kmaq Wolastoqey Centre (MWC), as part of the “Ceremonies that Promote Wellness” project, is honoring National Indigenous Peoples day with a series of events held at Fredericton’s Beaverbrook Art Gallery on June 21, 2019 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Organized by former UNB Elder-in-Residence Opolahsomuwehs Imelda Perley, the event will feature solstice drumming and dancing by the Muskrat Singers, Kyanna Kingbird, and Amanda Reid Rogers, Piluwitahasuwin at UNB. A pipe ceremony drum naming and 13 Summer Moon Teachings will follow.

David Perley, former director of the MWC, will facilitate a presentation of the recently launched Passamaquoddy – Maliseet Language Portal, an online language dictionary that contains over 19,000 Passamaquoddy – Maliseet language entries, definitions, audio recordings and a collective of native speaker videos.

Wolastoqiyik Indigenous artist Natalie Sappier-Samaqani Cocahq (The Water Spirit), will close the events with a discussion about her collaboration with Elder Perley on painting the stories for the ceremonial drums, followed by a talk about her storytelling process through art, writing, spoken word and chant.

In the spirit of reconciliation, decolonization and Indigenization, UNB continues to highlight, acknowledge and celebrate Indigenous knowledge and ways of knowing. This work is made possible by a group of highly dedicated individuals, including those at the Mi’kmaq Wolastoqey Centre, UNB’s Indigenous Student Committee and Amanda Rogers, who was named UNB’s first Piluwitahasuwin (Assistant Vice-President Indigenous Engagement) last November.

Also central to this work are Elder Opolahsomuwehs and David Perley, who were honoured at last month’s convocation with honorary doctorates for their continued and impactful Indigenization efforts throughout the community and across the province.

Other new and important events and initiatives held this year include: the MWC’s first Indigenous Language Gathering Celebration: Nikana’tunej (carrying language forward)/Namkomihptune ‘Ciw Weckuwapasihtit (carrying language forward for the ones not yet born) which included a special performance by Indigenous American-Canadian singer and songwriter, Buffy Sainte-Marie; Mawoluhkhotipon: Ally & Safe Space Program for Wabanaki and Indigenous Peoples was launched at the UNB Saint John campus; UNBSU Indigenous Student Representative Nadia Wysote formed an Indigenous Student Committee, which will improve upon the Indigenous student experience by organizing events to further recognize the Indigenous presence at UNB; and through the leadership of Dr. Dan Nagel, Catherine Hamilton and Shelley Francis, UNB and NBCC now has trained KAIROS Blanket Exercise Facilitators, a participatory history lesson that fosters truth, understanding, respect and reconciliation among Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

“These activities signify the beginning of UNB’s journey with piluwitahasuwawsuwakon,” says Amanda Rogers, Piluwitahasuwin. “This means, ‘allowing your thinking to change so that action will follow in a good way toward truth.’”

For more information about Wolastoqey latuwewakon/Wolastoqey language and culture, follow Elder Opolahsomuwehs’ on Twitter or contact the Mi’kmaq Wolastoqey Centre.

Media contact: Hilary Creamer Robinson