We are all Treaty People
. Binney - The Nova Scotia Museum
In the spirit of collective stewardship or it’s not really our land anyway.
The Mi’kmaq — the original inhabitants of this area that we now call Nova Scotia is
part of the territory called Mi’kma’ki.
Mi’kma’ki encompasses most of the Maritimes, Newfoundland and the Gaspésie. When the
Mi’kmaw People signed the peace and friendship treaties with the European settlers
they did not give up the land and other rights.
Our legacy is that Non-Indigenous and Indigenous people alike are signatories of those treaties — and that makes all of us, living here in Mi’kma’ki - Treaty People. But one big difference is that, although we are all Treaty People, some of us own land and others have been relegated to reserve land.
As history unfolded from the signing of the treaties the disparities between settlers and Indigenous Peoples increased and settlers privately owned more and more land. With increased private ownership of land comes decreased access to coastal water as well as to freshwater lakes and rivers, which although publicly owned often requires crossing privately owned land to get to. As we all know this can often cause problems.
Canada is at a crossroads. The findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission reveal that the time has come to acknowledge and be accountable for the genocide and the violations of treaties that have occurred
and to move forward with understanding and respect for Indigenous worldviews and rebuild a new society.
The concept of private ownership of the land by an individual is not part of an Indigenous worldview and although there is not a call to “give the land back” there is an opportunity for citizens of this country to act as stewards of the land with an approach informed by the sanity of the Indigenous worldview.
We in St. Margaret’s Bay can do this. In our caring for the land, water and air in our communities we can embrace a worldview that honours the gifts we have and share them in the spirit of collective stewardship.
We should also make ourselves aware of the history Mi’kmaw habitation in the area
and be respectful of sacred sites and burial grounds.