Book Reviews

Book Review: The Mik’Maq Anthology


Edited by Rita Joe and Lesley Choyce
Pottersfield Press, Lawrencetown Beach, Nova Scotia
282 pages,

Mik’maqs had a well-established civilization when Europeans arrived on their shores.

Today, there are approximately 40,000 Mik’maqs in Nova Scotia, Quebec, and Maine (U S A); they live a semi-nomadic life fishing during summer, and hunting in winter.

The language has a hieroglyphic writing that is still not completely deciphered.

This anthology contains articles and poetry created by Mi’kmaq and tells stories about how the English and French tried to assimilate them by various schemes (through boarding schools, trying to convert them to Catholicism, forbidding children to speak Mi’kmaq, and above all to change their culture).

The stories these writers tell are heart wrenching and such acts would not be tolerated today.

The Charter Of Rights in Canada guarantees this. All Charter Of Rights clauses have been violated before it was brought to Canada under P.E. Trudeau some 40 years ago.

The stories told in this book state that missionaries, while pretending to help the Mi’kmaqs were in fact trying to convert them, but more importantly they gave them bibles, but in return took the lands Mikmaqs owned for centuries.

The natural environment is the heart of the identity and culture of indigenous people. Land and sea are of prime importance to indigenous people. Both mean sustenance and survival.

Practically, all treaties signed by tribal elders and English and French were fully ignored.

These stories and more make up this anthology interesting, revealing facts the general public does not know or fully ignores.

One story in particular claims that the creation of a department named “Indian affairs” was particularly damaging to aboriginals in general, but Mik’maq in particular.

Very interesting, informative and highly recommended.

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