On September 22, 2022 New Brunswick announced that it would recognize Truth and Reconciliation Day, which occurs on September 30, as a provincial holiday. While many New Brunswick residents enjoyed a three-day weekend, it is important to fully understand and reflect on why this day of mourning exists.
On September 30, the University of New Brunswick, in partnership with the Wolastoqey and Mi’kmaq Nations, held an event in the Currie Center titled “‘Ciw Wasisok | Mi’guwetelamanej mi’juwaji’g” or “Every Child Matters: Remembering the Children.”
Those in attendance were honoured with the presence of Residential School Survivors and esteemed Elders and to hear their stories of pain, resilience, and visions of a reconciled Canada.
Along with powerful stories of the past and inspiring speeches of hope and action in the future, the audience heard the rousing music of the Wabanaki Confederacy Drummers who performed throughout the event. Towards the end of the morning, the drummers performed with Kyana Kingbird.
A member of the Mi’kmaq and Ojibwe Nations, Kingbird performed a dance with the backing of the drum circle. After this performance, Kingbird’s daughter, Serena, performed a song in her native tongue that moved much of the audience to tears.
The stories and speeches shared that mournful Friday morning were ones of heartbreak, but also hope, of moving forward together as respected equals.
“A new relationship will be established, a relationship based on respect. Honouring one another, loving one another, and recognizing the fact that we all have, we should all have, a place in New Brunswick society,” said Elder David Perley. “In the past, we’ve been marginalised, even though this land that we’re on now, my ancestors were here, since time immemorial. So for me when I think of the reconciliation journey, that’s what I have in mind and I hope you will also adopt that same perspective. And then make a commitment that we will take concrete action. Words are nice, but action is powerful.”
This article is accompanied by a poem written by Wayne Nicholas, the late brother of Elders Imelda and David Perley. Originally written in Maliseet, the original and English translation are provided below.
The Brunswickan stands with the Indigenous peoples of Atlantic Canada and beyond – Nmoskeyin Meskoltiek.
If you were unable to attend the Every Child Matters event but would still like to watch it, click here to see the full recording.
Canada Day Poem by Wayne Nicholas July 1st, 2010
Translated with permission by Vaughan Nicholas
Sipkiw yaqa nteqoteminol nsipikonol tuciw wasisuwiyan qenihptu kehsok ‘tomakeyuwakon yuktok wahantuwoluhkhoticik, kisi komutonihtit wetapeksi nemaht, kolamuwihtit wolastoqewatuwan, ‘cokawokehkimihtit nekomaw wolamsotomuhtit naka nehpahtuwihtit ncocahq, elakumuk, ntulnapemok naka psiw nmawuhkacik.
Qeni nsikitahasuwamsi, motuweyu alihptu askomi wewitahatomu ketomakiyuki npossoneloqon te sikitahasuwakon, katekon tokec nmushun kisewestu qeni kiluwahsi, kinitahasi naka ntoqeci pskomon mehtaqtek nsikawt, apeq eci mec kiwacitahasi, naskatahasi naka ntoqami nsiwitahasi.
Nceless ote katekon poqanomuwon eci tkiqok ‘sikitahasuwakonol mec ‘sapawsuwik wapoli-sakomawik kapiw wenuhcuwi-tpaskuwakonol mec piyemsonuwiwol naka nutatahasuwol skicinuwitahasuwakonol nit weci aqami motuweyik sakolomulsuwakon skicinuwihkuk.
Kidnap nil, apeq kisi ‘tomakiyuk kisi komotunihtit naka ‘cikawi kpuhukuniya wiciw nuhsimisok eliwihtomuhtitpon, “ihtolikehkitimok” kenoq amonehe lapolisunok kpahasikhotimok ihtoli ‘tomakiyut skicinuwi wasisok, kenoq tokec ntahcuwi ‘sakolikapu naka ntihkatomon Skicinuwawsuwakon, weci minuwi tpelomusultiyeq naka wolawsultine apc askomi tpeltomeq nkihtahkomikumon.
Ntahcuwi nkikahus naka ntoqeci poqanomun kehiskotokil kehsi ‘tomakiyuki naka nkihkatomon psiw ote motuweyik nmiqitahatom ntopitasuwakonon, psuhunok naka ncocahqomon weci apc minuwi wolawsi naka skat ntoqesiwon, ‘tomakeyiwon, muskuwitahasiwon naka ntekuwiluwuhan. Nit qinotette kisi leyik on oc nkisi nutuwan apc psuhuni pukhulakonok weci nkisi sakolikapuwi, npalitahamsi naka nikanikapuwin wiciw kinapuwicik psuhunawa naka tpitahasuwakonuwa…
The tears of my youth have stopped flowing from absorbing the injustice, inflicted by godly persons of cruel and wicked devils, who have extracted me from the womb of my community cutting off my mother tongue, forcible compliance of their way of life and killing my spirit, my people, my community, and my nation.
Severely depressed, I painfully walk with permanent scars that are deeply saturated within my soul and I can no longer speak from my heart as I continue my life’s journey looking, hoping and searching for the end of the trail, beaten, broken, burdened and buried in despair.
Helpless and unable to cope with the weight of atrocities gushing from the subtle but deadly waves of genocide that will not subside from all levels of government along with the courts of the dominion that are manipulating, diminishing, and imposing changes that disrupts the well-being of our communities.
I am warrior gravely wounded from the incarceration of an Indian Residential School and the genocides, but it is time that my resilience will abrogate the usurping of my people’s rights, liberties and freedoms upon the lands and resources we own, enjoy, use, and occupy.
I must heal myself by picking up the multiple years of baggage and heal every single wound that has pierced my body and soul so that I can live without shame, poverty, abuse, and anger. Then and only then will the healing drums give strength, pride and dignity among the hearts and minds of all Warriors.