MI'KMAQ CULTURE

New activities guide supports Mi’kmaq children, parents

'Steps like this help validate us, our culture, and who we are'

 

Bernie Francis reads in Mi'kmaq to four-year old Brielle Pennell.
Bernie Francis reads in Mi’kmaq to four-year old Brielle Pennell.   Jeana Mustain

Toqi milita’nej means “let’s play together,” and it’s the title of a new Mi’kmaq community guide for children and parents.

The guide, designed for four-year-olds, aims to help Mi’kmaq families support early learning through play. It outlines low and no-cost activities for parents and caregivers, including outdoor games and tips on how to understand ceremonies and songs.

The book was launched Thursday at the Mi’kmaq Child Development Centre on Gottingen Street.

Karen Gatien, associate deputy minister of Education and Early Childhood Development, made the announcement. She says the new resource is part of the provincial government’s commitment to ensure that all Nova Scotians gain a better understanding of the treaty relationship with the Mi’kmaq people.

Following the announcement, Mi’kmaq linguist and author Bernie Francis read in Mi’kmaq to a group of four-year-olds in the Aboriginal Head Start Program.

“It brings out the pride in the children in their culture,” said Donna Frizzell, the daycare’s director.

She says it’s exciting for the kids to see children who look like them in a book. On the cover of the booklet is a picture of a young Aboriginal girl, and inside are suggested Aboriginal children’s books, with pictures.

Lisa Robinson, a parent and volunteer at the centre, addressed the room after the announcement.

“Even though this is Mi’kmaq territory, sometimes it feels like we’re the ones who are borrowing the land,” said Robinson. “Steps like this help validate us, our culture, and who we are.”

Lee Merrigan-Thomas, a coordinator for the centre, said when they opened 23 years ago it was nearly impossible to find depictions of Aboriginal people or resources geared towards Aboriginal people.

“It’s pretty vital to the positive long term culture of our community.”

Merrigan-Thomas says they will be using the book in most of their programs, including their pre-natal groups and their four-year-old-plus groups.