On April 20, we visited the We’koqma’q school to watch the Nesting Program in action. We had the opportunity to sit down with Vice Principal John Leonard Bernard and Elder Phillis Googoo to discuss how the program started and how its working in their school. 


Where did the idea for the Nesting Program come from?

The idea began as a collaboration between Joanne, Josephine, and Phyllis. They started talking about how they could encourage parents to become more involved with speaking Mi’kmaw at home to their children. They realized that even though some of the parents understand the language, they don’t speak it. They saw this as an opportunity to help parents and their children interact in Mi’kmaw.. 


How does the program work? 

Parents come in and play with their children in centres and they have to speak Mi'kmaw. Last year it was farm animals and mr potato head. When they play with the toys parents speak the language to their children. There were also elders/mentors speaking and showing how to play.The program runs for two hours which starts with a story and then charades. Then the students move into some centre based activities which encourage interaction. 


When did the program start?

Planning started around 3 years ago but it was actually put in place last year. It was fairly easy to bring it into the classrooms when the Learning Through Play initiative began because the children were used to the idea of centre based learning. Last year we started the program with grades primary, one, and 2. This year we have been working with all students from K4 all the way up to grade 5.  We have it twice a year for each grade but our ultimate goal is to have it at least once a month.


How have parents responded?

Last year there were only a couple of parents that couldn't come in. Not one parent has missed it yet this year. If a parent can't come, then a grandparent will come. I know of a young mother who said that after going to the nesting program, she can now greet her children in Mi’kmaw and have more conversations than before. The target is the younger parents  who still have the understanding of it but don't quite speak it. The kids love it too because they get to share their learning with their parents.


What is your name, age, school, and what community are you from?

My name is Levi Marshall, I’m seventeen years old, and I’m currently in my senior year at Sackville High School. I’m from Membertou, First Nation and I am a proud Mi’kmaq person.


What clubs, teams, or groups are you involved in at school, and after-school?

Because of my devotion to improving my school’s environment, in my sophomore year I was elected Co-President of my school, becoming the first Mi’kmaq president in my high school’s history to come from a reserve. I have the role of facilitating meetings, organizing all major schools events, being the key communication amongst all council members, staff, and community supporters, emceeing events, and acting on behalf of the student body. My other involvements include: member of Skills Nova Scotia Team for Film and Video Production, Multi Media Developer for the Red Road Project, a member of the SHS Improv Team and International Buddies Program, part of our school’s health centre committee, and a School Representative for The NSSSA leadership conferences. I take pride in being a part of my community, as I know no matter how far away I may be from my home, I am always representing, my heritage, my people, and my ancestors.


What’s your favorite subject in school?

My favorite subject at school is Advanced English; I love to talk and have in depth conversations about the world around me, and this class allowed me to do this. I was never a keen reader until I took the course and then feel in love with it, but you can learn a lot just by sharing stories and discussing.


If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be, and why?

If I were given the opportunity to travel anywhere in the world I would love to see Rome, Italy. Since I was a boy it’s always been my dream to have my photo taken in front of the Colosseum. The architecture of the city in photos are beautiful and breath taking, I won’t feel complete until I see it with my own eyes. I’m the type of person who thrives off adventure and Rome seems like it’d be quite the getaway.


What do you like to do in your spare time?

When I have time to myself I love to spend it, either creating a video or in nature.  Filmmaking is my passion and even though sometimes I am doing it to make money I feel as if I’m not working, because I am having fun along the way. Sometimes, we all need to get away from all the craziness of life, in my case high school, and spend time hiking, creating art, or being with friends. No matter how occupied and busy you become, you have to make sure you give time for you to recuperate, both physically and mentally.


What are your plans for when you graduate, and why? What do you see yourself doing ten years from now?

When I graduate from High School I plan to move to Toronto, Ontario to study Film Production at Ryerson University. Making films is my passion, and I want to turn what I love into a career; so I worked hard to make many videos over the last few years so I could to get into the school of my dreams. One day, I want to become a Producer or be the Director of my own television show - hopefully I can accomplish that within the next ten years. But, my life goal is to be able to help others; I want to inspire youth to do what they love, and to do so fearlessly. I want to accomplish this through public speaking or even through my media.


Do you have a role model? If so, who? And why?

One person I really admire is Wab Kinew; I went to two of his speeches before, once in Winnipeg, and another time at St. FX University. I was truly motivated by the message he delivered and the hope he brought to the people. Wab is a great role model for all First Nations people, and his charisma he brings to the stage is a skill I would love to adapt if I ever have the chance to speak in front of crowds like he does. He is multi-talented and aspires to do accomplish many great things in life, and already has. In my opinion, that is the best way to live.


What is your best memory from your high school years?

 My fondest memory from my years in high school was being on the Improv Team and performing with them at provincials each year. We never won gold, or silver at that, but the bond you form with your teammates after the days of tournament is like no other. You cannot join a sports team, or any other club that gives you the feeling of family as much as Improv does. We go on stage not knowing how the night will transpire, all we know is that we have each other’s backs and we are going to make up a story as one.


What is the best thing about your school?

There are so many great things about Sackville High, but I have to say the best thing about my school is how much student involvement there is. There are clubs and teams for nearly everybody at our school, and that allows all students to have the chance to meet like-minded people, and feel part of something greater. We have clubs that range from: Dungeons and Dragons, chess, to the Green Team; and teams such as: Golf, Hockey, and Improv. What makes a school special is the spirit the student body has; if the school spirit is great, so is the classroom environment.



Who has made an impact on you?

I have had so many teachers that have encouraged me to take some of the chances I have taken and to be in the position I am in. My Improv coach and Drama teacher, Mrs. Morris, has taught me to be myself and to take risks, no matter how terrifying it seems. My English teacher, Ms. Engram, taught me to be resilient and she has inspired me to use my talent of story telling to inspire others. Even throughout Junior High I have had teachers that have pushed me to be the leader I am today, Mr. Hulshof and Mr. MacIlreith. These two men have helped me discover that I stand out for a good reason, and they always believed in me. These people, including many others, have impacted my life so greatly and I will always remember how much they have done for me.


Is there something you'd like to see in your school or community that isn't there now?

One thing I would like to see more in my hometown, Membertou, is more opportunities for the youth and teens to dabble in the arts: Theatre, Music, Visual Arts, and even Filmmaking. These are things so many of our youth could be good at, but their talents will go undiscovered if they are never exposed to it. As First Nations people, story telling is in our blood and I know that there already plenty of opportunities for Mi’kmaq teens to play in sports, but sports is not always for everyone. Think about the useful life skills that come from doing arts, and how therapeutic it can be for an individual’s mental health. In the long run, having our youth involved with the Arts will benefit them more throughout their personal and professional lives; being more confident, having the ability to public speak, and to express themselves are just some of what most people will take away from it.


Words of advice, a personal favorite quote, or a thank-you?

My words of advice to anyone in high school is to seize every opportunity you get, and to join every club and team you can handle, but to find a healthy balance. By involving yourself in your school, you will discover that days pass faster and the work becomes less stressful. From what we know, we have only one chance at this life thing - so make every moment worth it.  







On Thursday April 14, students from all schools gathered at Maupeltuewey Kina’matno'kuom  in Membertou for the annual Mi’kmaq Regional Science Fair. 




Category 1: Grade 1-2


1st  Magnetic Racing Car, Josep Denny, Eskasoni

2nd Walking Water, Cash Pierard and Brianne Googoo, We’koqma’q

3rd Walking Water, AJ Simon and Makayla Augustine, Wagmatcook


Category 2: Grade 3-4


1stIt’s Such a Pane, Orlando Meuse, LSK

2nd Walking on Eggshells, Nicholas Strickland & Evan Beadle, Pictou Landing

3rdRubber Bones, Malasia Sappier, MB2 


Category 3: Grade 5-6


1stWater Cycle, Maria Alex, Eskasoni

2ndBacteria Testing, Brooke & Paris,We’koqma’q

3rdTastebuds, Nevin Paul


Category 4: Grade 7-9


1stI Love Music, Kierra Sack, LSK

 2ndPopping Balloons, Justice Johnson, Potlotek

3rdGender and Colour, Robbi-Lynn Gould & Kiersten Marshall


Category 5: Grade 10-12


1stHuman Growth Hormone in Diabetes, Shareeve Gould, Eskasoni ’

2ndTardigrades Ruby Poulette, We’koqma’q

3rdThe Effect of Music on Plant Growth, Nichelle Googoo, Eskasoni


ABMHS Receives New Instruments from MusiCounts

It was like Christmas morning on April 7, 2016 as students at Allison Bernard Memorial High School eagerly opened the boxes containing brand new instruments for their music program, courtesy of the MusiCounts Band Aid Program.


The MusiCounts Band Aid Program assists schools across the country with the purchase of musical instruments in order to provide students with the opportunity to discover their musical talents.  

“This was our third time applying for this grant and we are pretty excited to finally be chosen as a recipient,” explained Carter Chiasson, music teacher. “I have to give credit to Clifton Cremo who did a lot of the work for the application. He got testimonials from the students and community and submitted those along with the application.”

 There were a number of big ticket items that were purchased with the $10 000 grant such as a base, tuba and amps. Several new acoustic guitars were also purchased due to the fact that the old guitars needed neck replacements and were quite difficult to play. 


“I started playing the guitar when I was 9 or 10,” said Leon Julian, student. “”I wasn’t really interested in it at the time but when I turned 16 I started playing again. I really love it now. I took music last semester.” 

The instruments will be used as part of the Music 10 band and also Music 10 collective, which is a course designed to introduce inexperienced students to beginner keyboard and guitar.

“Here at the high school the students have a lot of talents,” explained Newell Johnson, Principal. “ With these instruments, it offers the students more opportunities to try new instruments and figure out what other talents they may have. That way  we can put on more performances and the community can come out and see what we have to offer!” 


For more information about the MusiCounts Band Aid Program or to find an application for the 2016/17 school year, please visit


On Wednesday March 30, the Viewfinders Youth Film Festival held a screening of six youth films at the cineplex theatre in Sydney as part of the Atlantic Film Festival. We’koqma’q students created an eleven minute film called Magit’s doll which was part of the screening. In their film, elder Magit Poulette shares her story with students at the We’koqoma’q Mi’kmaw School about her experience at the Shubenacadie Residential School. When she arrived at age four her doll was taken away from her so she created dolls from her cleaning rags. As part of her visit with the students, she demonstrated how she made her dolls and they made their own as well. 

Magit’s doll, and other videos made by We’koqma’q students will be available on YouTube in the coming months. 


Excellent work We’koqma’q!

On March 2nd, 3rd and 4th, students from Allison Bernard Memorial High School visited several schools within the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board to teach other students about their culture, while at the same time, debunking the many myths and stereotypes that are often held about First Nations people. The event was coordinated by Brenda MacIssac, Literacy Consultant, in partnership with ABMHS and CBVRSB. With the assistance of their teachers Ron Martin and Rita Gould, they prepared several presentations and displays to share with and educate the students . They taught about Mi’kmaq dancing, waltes, basket making, the seven sacred teachings and so much more. The teachers and students in the schools were fascinated by our students and really appreciated the work that was put into this event. The knowledge and pride in their culture was evident. Great job! 


It has been a very busy month at Maupeltuewey Kina’matno’kuom! Students have been keeping active through a variety of sports teams and other school activities.

Boys and girls basketball and hockey teams have their schedules filled until March as they participate in the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School league. Anyone who is interested in checking out their games can access a schedule at the school.

The grade 3 students have been taking part in a survival swimming program at the Northside community pool. The program is part of their integrated curriculum and has been taking place through the entire month of January. “At first, some of the students were a little nervous about the pool but now they are all quite comfortable with it,” said Sharon Bernard, Principal. “I would say that the program has been a real success!”

The grade 6-7 class has been busy planning for their annual Ottawa trip. They are currently selling tickets on an autographed Sidney Crosby jersey. Anyone who is interested in purchasing a ticket can contact the school for more information.

February is also jam packed with events including an introduction to Lacrosse, Robotics, a Chinese new year celebration and a continuation of all the sporting events from January, with volleyball set to start soon. 


The Holistic Assessment committee met this month to continue their work on the assessment development process. During their two day planning session, they discussed the possible name for the assessment, designs for the background, and characteristics and names of the characters.

An example of the website design and app was approved and is going to be developed over the coming months. Questions surrounding trouble shooting and support for parents and teachers were addressed. The next planning session will take place at the end of February.

A new initiative that just started this month is teacher visits a teacher. The first official visit took place on January 28 when Curtis Michael went to visit Kattirin Johnson, Grade 4 teacher at the Immersion school. The purpose of the visit is to provide an opportunity for Mi'kmaw Language teachers to visit other Mi'kmaw Language teachers within MK. Teachers are encouraged to share ideas and methods to engage oral language acquisition in the classroom. There will be more visits planned for February.

Strong Nations met this month as well. So far, 40 children books have been translated along with a Teacher Resource guide! A release of the materials and distribution will take place in March 2016. 

On Saturday November 28th, the Mi’kmaw Sport Council of Nova Scotia presented the 9th annual Nova Scotia Aboriginal Sport Summit. Participants learned about “Lnu Kamakn” which is the the ski program, the MPAL program, Rugby and Lacrosse. They also heard about what is happening in sport in the community of Eskasoni.

The day concluded with the annual Sports Awards Banquet. This year’s winners are as follows: 

Male Athlete of the year

Levi Denny Jr.


Female Athlete of the year

Arianna Denny


Male Coach of the year

Levi Denny Sr.


Female Coach of the year 

Angie Gillis


Lifetime Achievement Award 

Robert Bernard


Communities also had the opportunity to recognize their own athletes or coaches during the banquet. Eskasoni recognized Jeannine Denny and Tuma Bernard for their contribution to youth sport. Wagmatcook recognized Dante Isadore and Claudia Pierrard for their dedication to sport. 





Over 80 students from across Nova Scotia attended the third annual Aboriginal Youth Trades fair in Halifax from November 11-13.

The activities began on Wednesday evening with a banquet where students listened attentively to Dr Don Julian, a veteran, speak about his career in the military and the importance of Remembrance Day. 

On day two, students were separated into two groups. One group went to First Aid training with Jeff Ward while the other group went to the Trades Hall. The following day, they switched locations so that all students who attended the fair had the opportunity to become certified in First Aid and explore the trades. 

During the evenings, students were entertained by going to the movies, shopping and doing cultural activities such as drum making, beading, and learning about the seven sacred teachings.

“Our Trades Fair was awesome,” said Ann Sylliboy, Post Secondary Consultant. “I look forward to next year!”

The trades fair was made possible through the help of many sponsors; The Province of Nova Scotia, Shell, Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey, the Friendship Centre, Native Council, METS, KMKNO, and the Construction Sector Council.


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