Inspired by the stories in the Living Treaties book, the idea of having a gathering to bring together Gaelic and Mi’kmaw Communities to begin the process of reconciliation was born. On October 25, 2016, a symposium was held in Wagmatcook which highlighted the similarities to the shared stories of the Gaelic-speaking settlers and the Mi’kmaq.
The symposium allowed participants to hear the shared stories of being displaced by military might, by the loss of lands and tradition, by starvation, by economic and political and cultural hegemony—in effect, cultural genocide—people resigned themselves to new realities and, in the process, nearly lost their language in order to survive.
The loss of land, language and life by the Mi’kmaq continues to be both misunderstood and ignored by the dominant society, yet with great effort, the language is being spoken by a new generation. The loss of land and language by Highland Gaels is well documented, both in Scotland and throughout the Scots diaspora, and great strides have been taken to recover the language, as well, and to make it relevant to a new generation of learners.
“The process of reconciliation is going to be a long journey; However when we have events where people from different backgrounds and culture can come to gather in the spirit of peace and friendship, we are on the right path,” said Jaime Battiste, Treaty Education Coordinator. “It was great to see the sharing of culture, learning about how both the Mi’kmaw and Gaels have struggled with displacement and language loss, and how they are trying to revitalize it. “
Attendees of the symposium spent the day sharing their experiences. Speakers shared their knowledge on topics such as language revitalization and the importance of the land. There was also opportunity for reflection on the past and a look ahead to a bright future. Music, dancing and the sharing of a meal made for an excellent day.