‘It’s About Being Allies’: Halifax Community Shares Salmon Dinner on Treaty Day

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Volunteers enthusiastically greeted hundreds of visitors to the Sands at Salters area on the Halifax waterfront on Friday morning.

Mi’kmaq songs and dances entertained the crowd as they lined up for a free salmon dinner hosted by the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Center. The center prepared and distributed 500 meals on a first come, first served basis to celebrate Treaty Day.

A celebration of historic ties

The day, which falls on October 1, was officially proclaimed 35 years ago to commemorate the relationship between the Mi’kmaq and Britain. This day also marks the beginning of Mi’kmaq History Month in Nova Scotia.

According to the Union of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq, October 1 has been designated in the Treaty of 1752 as the date on which the Mi’kmaw would receive gifts from the Crown to “renew their friendship and their submissions.”

Linden Redbear Levis, 15, a traditional dancer from Northern New Brunswick, performs before a free salmon dinner hosted by the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Center as part of Treaty Day festivities on the waterfront of Halifax Friday October 1, 2021 – Tim Krochak

The 1752 treaty showed the Crown’s intentions to make peace and to grant trade, hunting and fishing rights to the Mi’kmaq.

Debbie Eisan, manager of community events and seniors at the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Center, said she was “so happy” to see people learning about treaties and the residential school system since Thursday.

“It’s about being allies and learning from each other,” she said.

One of the long-standing traditions on Treaty Day is the Salmon Dinner, which reflects the values ​​of the Mi’kmaw people of sharing with others.

“It is extremely useful”

The salmon cooked for Friday’s dinner was caught in Listuguj First Nation by Mi’kmaq fishermen.

It was baked in the center with roasted garlic seasoning and butter and served to the crowd in take-out containers. The meal consisted of vegetables, potatoes, a bun, and juice or water.

Volunteers are handing out some of the 500 free salmon dinners on the Halifax waterfront on Friday, October 1, 2021. - Tim Krochak
Volunteers are handing out some of the 500 free salmon dinners on the Halifax waterfront on Friday, October 1, 2021. – Tim Krochak

James Cameron first tasted a traditional salmon dinner on Friday. Originally from Scotland, he arrived in Halifax two years ago and is now a student at Eastern College.

It was in this year that he began to learn about the history of the Indigenous peoples of Canada and how they were affected by colonization. Cameron said the subject was not taught in schools in Scotland.

“It was hard to listen and learn about it, but it’s worth it,” he said.

“We can only learn a lot from a textbook, but you can learn so much more from people and from listening to their stories. “

Create learning opportunities

Philippe Noël and his wife Maggie Campagna brought their two young daughters aged two and six to the event. Originally from Quebec, the family of four has already visited the First Nations of their province of origin.

People enjoyed the salmon dinner which reflects the value of the Mi'kmaw people in sharing with others.  - Tim Krochak
People enjoyed the salmon dinner which reflects the value of the Mi’kmaw people in sharing with others. – Tim Krochak

“As a society we are sometimes very interested to see other countries, to see other nations, but not much about the (First Nations) that are part of Canada,” Noel said as the girls happily played. on the grass.

“So we want… for our children… a better knowledge of First Nations and their culture and to meet them in person.

The education surrounding indigenous peoples, Noel said, barely scratched the surface when he was in school.

“We learned in school who John A. Macdonald is, but we didn’t learn the other part of that story… I think that’s a big part of the story that just got taken from us.

Noel urged all parents to create opportunities for their children to meet and learn more about Indigenous communities in Canada. It can be as easy as picking up a book from the library.

Activities are planned for children by the water on Saturday to learn more about Mi’kmaq culture. They include a lesson on teepees, a beadwork workshop, and a coloring activity where they can create dreamcatchers that will be donated to the IWK Health Center. Events start at 12 p.m. and are expected to run until 3 p.m.

Nebal Snan is a reporter for the Local Journalism Initiative, a federally funded post.


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