Sister Veronica Matthews and Elder Freeman Douglas Knockwood  Awarded Honorary Doctorate Degrees this Spring


 This spring, two influential Mi’kmaw elders have been recognized for their dedication to their communities during two separate university graduation ceremonies. Sister Veronica Matthews received an honorary doctorate degree from St Francis Xavier University on Sunday May 3rd. Elder Freeman Douglas Knockwood was awarded his honorary doctorate on Monday May 11th at Acadia University.



Sister Veronica Matthews

(Adapted from the Cape Breton Post

 Sister Veronica Matthews of Eskasoni was presented her honorary degree during the spring convocation ceremony at StFX University. During the ceremony, she was called a trailblazer and a role model for her hard work and dedication to community health.  In her career, Sister Veronica Matthews has worked in her home community, promoting diabetes education and awareness. She has also served on numerous health boards and is a founding member and honorary lifetime member of the Aboriginal Nurses Association of Canada. 

Freeman Douglas Knockwood

 Elder Freeman Douglas Knockwood of Sipekne’katik received his honorary degree from Acadia University on Monday May 11. During his acceptance speech he humbly told the crowd that he never thought he would receive such an honour in his lifetime. Doug was recognized for his work in co-founding and promoting the Mi’kmaw alcohol and drug treatment program. In his career, he has worked all across Canada assisting in many different treatment programs and was the Director of the Mi’kmaw Healing Lodge in Eskasoni.  He continues to be active in drug and addiction counselling programs and enjoys working with the youth to promote spiritual awareness.


2015 Show Me Your Math!

On Wednesday May 6, Mi’kmaw elementary, junior high and high school students from across Nova Scotia came together in Membertou to celebrate math and cultural heritage during the annual Show Me Your Math! Regional Fair.

Show Me Your Math! showcases school projects that detail the math inherent in the Mi’kmaw culture. Primary to Grade 12 students from Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey (MK) schools, the Strait Regional School Board, and the Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Board, presented individual and group math projects completed during the school year.

Show Me Your Math! changed slightly this year, with a smaller group of students sharing inquiry based investigative reports instead of having the traditional fair. Students were asked to present their projects to the group and answered questions about their project. Some schools shared short videos of the process of creating their project while others chose to present their work in person. 

Since the launch in 2006, over 3,000 Mi’kmaw students in MK schools have participated. In recent years the fair expanded to include public schools in Nova Scotia that serve Mi’kmaw communities such as the Strait, Chignecto Central, and Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Boards.


As part of their course work, students partner with elders, community craftspeople, family members, and friends on projects that explore the role of math in their everyday lives. In the past, students have learned lessons such as the importance of Pi in crafting quill boxes, spatial reasoning inherent in traditional baking, and how math plays a role in constructing a canoe or traditional drums.

The National Aboriginal Hockey Championships (NAHC), founded by the Aboriginal Sport Circle and sanctioned by Hockey Canada, provides a forum for elite Bantam and Midget aged Aboriginal hockey players from across Canada showcasing the athletic abilities of athletes from across the country.

The top under-18 male and female aboriginal players from across Canada took part in the week-long tournament, which began Monday April 27. Games were played at the BMO Centre in Bedford throughout the week, with the bronze and gold medal games taking place at the Scotiabank Centre in downtown Halifax on Saturday May 2.

Sixteen teams attended the event, including Team Atlantic, consisting of some of the best aboriginal players from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador.


Saskatchewan wins double gold for the second consecutive year


For the second consecutive year, Saskatchewan is a double gold winner at the National Aboriginal Hockey Championship.

Team Saskatchewan claimed both the male and female under-18 titles Saturday at Scotiabank Centre in Halifax. They were victorious in both divisions in 2014.

The Saskatchewan female team beat Ontario 3-2 in the gold medal game Saturday while the male team won an exciting overtime game, beating Alberta 4-3.

In the bronze medal games, the female Manitoba team slipped past Alberta 3-2 while B.C. beat Manitoba 5-4 in the male third-place game.


Meet Tara Johnson!


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

My name is Tara Johnson, I’m nineteen years old and I go to Potlotek High school. 

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


I’m currently in a beading club started by Jasmine Johnson, the Mi’kmaw language teacher. It’s a fun club that I enjoy going to because it connects me to my culture and she’s always teaching us new Mi’kmaw words. 


What’s your favourite subject in school?


My favorite courses throughout high school would have to be the sciences. It’s a love/hate relationship with those courses. I’m almost always pulling out all my hair from it, but I honestly enjoy it so much because it challenges me and forces me to work hard.


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


There are a lot of places I would love to go based on educational/cultural experiences, but if I had to choose a place for just leisure, I would choose Florida. I’ve always wanted to see the beautiful beaches there and ride the rollercoasters that I’ve heard so much about.


What do you like to do in your spare time?


In my spare time I enjoy beading; it’s honestly become my addiction.


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


I plan on going to university, getting my Bachelor of Arts degree, and then hopefully off to law school. In ten years, I hope to be working at a law firm or at a school teaching.


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


I could name dozens of role models, but if I had to choose one, it would be my big sister. I always find myself wanting to be just like her. When I was growing up, I was nicknamed ‘tail’ because I would follow my sister everywhere (and drove her crazy, I might add.) But yes, she would be my role model; she’s a strong, caring tough cookie and I hope to grow up just like her.


What is your best memory from your high school years?


The best memory (and also the most horrible memory) of my high school years would probably be canoeing for the first time in my life. I can still remember that day like it was yesterday. My friend and I were messaging each other and we both said, “Do we wear jeans? I don’t want to sink.” Didn’t we both show up in jeans? We laughed at each other and shrugged it off. In the end, we actually tipped the canoe and I was practically floating away laughing my head off. What didn’t help was that our rescue boat broke down and we had to paddle it back to shore. I was so sore from laughing so much.


What is the best thing about your school? Who has made an impact on you?


The best thing about my school is that no one judges each other. I went to a school where people were constantly judging each other based on looks and the way they dressed. It’s so refreshing to be able to go to a school where you won’t be judged by the way you look/dress, but based on your personality (that’s how all schools should be). Another perk would be the teachers; if you need help they are always there and you can go in early to get the extra help if needed. 



Quite a few people made a huge impact on my life, my brother being the main one. He showed me to never give up on your dreams and to keep fighting, even when you feel like you lost hope. For that I thank him. He helped me a lot when I felt like giving up on school; my brother and my sister always giving me the extra push to keep going.


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


What I would love to see is an actual school built for Potlotek High School. That would be so awesome!


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


Words of advice? Never give up. If the dream is there, keep fighting for it even when you feel like you lost hope. There have been so many times I felt like giving up, but I didn’t and now I’m graduating and going to a school I never would have thought I’d get accepted into. Never give up and always follow your dreams!



Thank you to everyone who has ever supported me and believed in me over the past years. Because of everyone who has ever believed in me, I’m graduating with a scholarship and going to the school I’ve always wanted to attend. Thank you! 


On March 31 and April 1, 2015, staff and students at Allison Bernard Memorial High School listened attentively as Nolan Pike, Raven Davis and John Robert Sylliboy shared their stories about their experiences as two spirited and transgender individuals. 


Earlier this year, Principal Newell Johnson provided information to her staff regarding the provincial guidelines on transgender and non-conforming students in order to help them familiarize themselves with the topic. 

The students in the school wanted to take this a step further. A group in the school called the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) group wanted to organize an event discussing gender issues that would include both staff and students. Through their efforts, along with the help of teachers Ronnie Martin and Sherise Paul, Principal Newell Johnson, and Student Services Coordinator from Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey Janean Marshall, the LGBTQ day was planned. 

What was expected to be a one-day event was actually spread out over two days due to a snowstorm that cancelled afternoon classes on the planned day of the event.


On day one, Davis discussed the different terminology surrounding LGBTQ and talked about her experiences growing up. She talked about how her feelings changed over time and at times she identified with one term and at other times she felt that another word more closely described her feelings. She explained what the term “Two Spirited” means to her and how she identifies with that definition. 

Pike spoke to the crowd about his experience growing up in Ontario, knowing that even though the outside world saw him as a female, he didn’t identify as that on the inside. He shared how tough it was as a young person to feel such a huge disconnect between what you are ARE and what people can actually see.

He explained to the students that the first step in the process of aligning what the outside world sees to those inner feelings is actually talking about it and telling someone about those feelings. 

He stressed the importance of friendship and how having even just one friend to talk to about those feelings can make such a huge difference. 

“Just listening, accepting and honouring that about a friend who tells you they are gay is such a big step.” 

Pike explained to the students that although he is hired to come in as an “expert” on transgender issues, he knows that the most important thing he can do is to make sure he is always listening and learning. He told them that everyone’s experience is a personal and individual one, and in order to talk to people about it, its always important to listen. “I’ve learned what I know because I listen,” explained Pike. “There’s always something new to learn.”

 On day two, John Robert Sylliboy spoke with the group about his experiences with being two spirited. 

One of the aspects that was stressed by all three presenters was the importance of community acceptance. They explained how much of a difference it can make to the person dealing with gender identity issues to have that support. 


The students and staff involved were very attentive during the workshop and everyone walked away with more awareness about gender issues.

On Wednesday April 18, students from most MK schools gathered at Lnu Sipuk Kina’muokuom School in Sipeknekatik for the annual Mi’kmaq Regional Science Fair. 




Category 1: Grade 1-2


1st  Healthy Lifestyle, Damon Googoo and Diego Lewis, We’koqma’q

2nd   Rainbow Flowers, Seth Francis and Alden Francis, Pictou Landing

3rd Rethink Your Drink, Madison Bernard, Membertou


Category 2: Grade 3-4


1st Suck it to Ya, Jaitlyn Julian and Harmony Paul, LSK

2nd Which Chocolate Melts Faster, Ethan Strickland & Nate Mills, Pictou Landing

3rd Light Me Up, Carmine Julian & Connor Michael, LSK


Category 3: Grade 5-6


1st  The Big Picture, Ocean Pierro-MacDonald, LSK

2nd  The Amazing Race, Kassidy Augustine, LSK

3rd  Hidden Nasties, Devonia & Emma, Pictou Landing


Category 4: Grade 7-9


1st  Video Games, Christany Bernard & Rebecca Doucette, Eskasoni

2nd  Colorful Choices, Kierra Sack

3rd  Spino-Magnet, Cody Julian, LSK


Category 5: Grade 10-12


1st  Mi’kmaw Runner, Thomas Sylliboy, Eskasoni

2nd  How do Cell Phones Affect…., Shareeve Gould, Eskasoni

3rd  Why do Apples Turn Brown, Georgina Wilmot, Wagmatcook


Elephant Thoughts, Canada’s largest charitable organization supporting Educational Outreach in First Nations communities, has been operating out of Sipeknekatik over the past year.  The program provides opportunities for students in the area to develop a passion for science through interactive events. 

The goal behind the programming is to make it fun, make it hands-on, celebrate and embrace the local culture, and involve the whole community. This goal is evident through all of the different events offered in the community. 

Dianna Trull, educator and Elephant Thoughts program director at Sipeknekatik, is very excited about how the program is going. “We can get between 60 – 90 parents and kids for each of our weekly community events, depending on the weather. We also offer after school programming for the children in the community, which is also quite well attended.” 

The community is able to hire staff from the community and it helps to employ a lot of teen mentors who will eventually move up into supervisory positions. The goal of the program is that in a few years, the community will take over the staffing of the entire program and it will be run internally. 

“This is the easiest program to work with,” said Haley Ward, mentor.  “The activities are planned out and we just follow the plan. The kids love everything we do and whenever they see us outside of here, they ask us about what is happening next.” 

Parents also really enjoy attending the community events and they love the changes they have seen in their children and grandchildren since the program began. 

“This is the most amazing program we have ever had here. The kids are so excited to attend from one week to the next,” explained Patricia Nicholson. “What I really found interesting is that it changed the Christmas lists at my house. The kids started asking for educationally based toys instead of the toys they used to ask for.” 

The students who attend the program love the community events and had nothing but good things to say about them:

“I like coming here every time because there is something fun happening here each week!” -Sherona

“Lego is my favorite night that we had so far. I can’t decide what my favorite part of tonight is yet. I have to try them all first!” -Carly

There are still some exciting community events coming up in the next few weeks, with a dinosaur dig happening on April 2nd, and the program finale on April 9th. For more information, please visit the LSK school website and look for Elephant Thoughts.

When 17 year old Shawnee Paul received the news that she was awarded the esteemed Lieutenant Governor’s Respectful Citizenship Award, she was surprised and a little humbled.

The Lieutenant Governor's Respectful Citizenship Award recognizes students in grades Primary to 12, those who attend private schools, or those that are home schooled and registered with the Nova Scotia Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, who are making a positive difference in their schools, their communities, and their province.      

Shawnee would probably be the last person to think that she's deserving of this award, but in the eyes of those in her community, she's an upstanding role model. Chief Leroy Denny of Eskasoni sent a nomination letter on behalf of Shawnee, and in his letter he referred to Shawnee as a champion. 

“I have known Shawnee since she was a little girl,” said Chief Denny. “I have seen her mature into a great person who exemplified what it truly is to be a leader and role model for our Mi’kmaq youth of Eskasoni.”

Dawna Prosper implements the NADACA youth program in Eskasoni and was asked by Shawnee if she could write a reference letter on her behalf for the award. Dawna was more than delighted.

In her letter she said, “Shawnee is a highly trained and certified swim instructor and plays an integral part in the delivery of the NADACA Learn to Swim Program. She has gained the admiration of many and works extremely hard at accomplishing her goals. Over the years Shawnee has learned to incorporate healing through laughter when helping others, and empowering youth by teaching them new skills.”

Dawna went on to say, “Shawnee carries great pride in being Mi'kmaq and is always eager to share her culture and language with others. She is a great community leader and role model for our youth.”      

High school visual arts teacher Ron Martin was also happy to write a reference letter on Shawnee’s behalf.

"Right from the beginning I could detect something special about her," said Martin. "Her warm personality and friendly smile greeted you every morning when she entered the school. It wasn't long after that I discovered that there was much more to this young lady than meets the eye. She is intelligent, outgoing, talented, funny and a good friend to many.”   

Now in her final year at Chief Allison Bernard Memorial High School, Shawnee had maintained honors with distinction throughout her high school experience, and in her spare time she tutors math, teaches swimming at the YMCA, and is also a musician. Her best instrument is the fiddle, but she dabbles with the guitar, piano, flute, and harmonica, and has been known to sing on occasion. Her love for music can be seen at high school and community functions.      

Shawnee and her parents, George and Mary, were not able to attend the Lieutenant Governor’s Respectful Citizenship Award Ceremonies on February 25, 2015, at Nova Scotia Province House in Halifax due to inclement weather; however, they hope another date will be scheduled for her to receive the medal. 

Congratulations, Shawnee!

Upper Elementary Literacy teachers from Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw community schools gathered in Membertou on February 4, 2015 for the first meeting of their Professional Learning Network (PLN).

Although there have been other PLNs in the past, this was the first meeting for this group of teachers. The purpose of the PLN is to create a learning space for teachers to share best practices and network with other teachers at their grade level.

“Having the opportunity to talk with other grade 6 teachers just doesn’t happen in my school since we only have one grade 6 class, ” said Tim Jesty, Grade 6 teacher at Maupeltuewey Kina'matno'kuom. “ Being here and talking with other grade 6 teachers introduces me to different strategies and ideas that have actually worked for other grade 6 teachers.”

Teachers who choose to take part are given a common article on a teaching practice to read before the meeting. They come together and discuss the article in small and large groups, which often focuses on how they can or have put this idea into practice in their classrooms. This is followed up by extended reading, along with further discussion on the teaching method and their ideas on how to put it into practice.

Each member of the group chooses something they learned or heard during the day and tries something new in their classroom. During the next meeting, teachers share their experiences of the new technique in their classrooms. They are given feedback from their colleagues as they discuss their challenges and successes.

Jillean from Eskasoni is a new teacher and really appreciates the opportunity to learn from these networking sessions.

“I benefit so much from listening to how other teachers do things. I really think that I would have been lost without it.” The same group of teachers will meet several more times, focusing on a different teaching method each session.

Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey will publish a book of writing and art work of students in Grades 7-12. 

Submissions of writing and art work, particularly art work which accompanies or prompts a piece of writing, are requested. 

Multiple genres and writing formats will be included in the publication. Some example include narrative or persuasive text, biographical or autobiographical pieces, letters, journal entries, poetry, comic strips, cartoons, essays, among others. You are only limited by your imagination.

Submission process:

  • Teachers are invited to choose two pieces of student writing from each of the classes they teach. 
  • Selections should be students’ best original work. 
  • Pieces (and questions) should be edited and sent digitally to
  • Deadline for submissions is Thursday, April 30, 2015.

Work submitted will be published in a book/anthology of student writing. The title and cover page of the book will be decided via a contest. Details to follow. An event will be held in June to honour our student authors and present them with their published work. Students whose work is published, as well as their teachers, schools, and school boards, will receive a copy of the book.


Subscribe to News