A call to promote further Indigenization
To whom it may concern,
Antigonish has a lot of historical meaning to the Mi’kmaw people, as it was their traditional meeting place where tribes would come together and they would make alliances with other tribes. The aligned would come up with survival strategies and skills to ensure everyone and their needs are met including spiritual practice, and also making sure everyone has enough food and materials etc. This meeting place would be interrupted by colonial settlers and within this new society there is no room for indigenous culture or spiritual practice but only for what would become the mainstream. The Mi’kmaq people were relocated to a small piece of land, what is now known as Paq’tnkek. There were those who stayed at the Antigonish Landing selling baskets and hockey sticks but they would be faced with another relocation in the 1970’s where all the Mi’kmaq are pushed out of an area where a university would be built called, Saint Francis Xavier in 1853. The University is right in the center of what was a very important meet place for not only the Mi’kmaq but many indigenous peoples. The Mi’kmaq people never gave up title of the land, specifically in this territory as we are a sovereign people. This is unseeded Mi’kmaq territory. Between 1827 and 1830 all First Nation people were forced to register under the Indian Act, which had full control of their life. You could not leave the reserve without a pass, and could not come into Antigonish, because that was no longer part of First Nation territory, and you could not practice traditional ceremony on reserve.
In conclusion for Saint Francis Xavier University: to put a permanent structure for a sweatlodge on campus for everyone to have access to, would be a major step towards truth and reconciliation. Not only would this tighten our bonds to Antigonish and the StFX community, this would bring us back to our scared meeting place where we can finally let the wrongs of the past go and work on a positive future together that will have outlasting positive impacts on the future generations who attend Saint Francis Xavier University. The former would have stronger ties to the Mi’kmaq and other Aboriginal people.