Understanding and appreciating Mi’kmaw culture: StFX staff, students and faculty tour Mi’kmawey Debert Interpretive Trail
October 15th, 2021
With much to be learned by visiting sites of significance throughout Mi’kma’ki, a group of about 20 StFX staff, students and faculty boarded the StFX bus on Oct. 7 to broaden their knowledge and awareness during a visit to the Mi’kmawey Debert Interpretive Trail, where artist and cultural educator Gerald Gloade led a cultural presentation.
The tour was organized by the StFX Indigenous Student Affairs Office and was one of a series of events held in October to celebrate Mi’kmaq History Month.
Participants had the chance to walk along the 4.4 km trail, learning about thousands of years of history and landscapes and to understand and appreciate Mi’kmaw cultural significance from a presentation by Mr. Gloade, Program Development Officer for the Mi’kmawey Debert Cultural Centre.
StFX staff member, Campaign Director Kathleen Provost, says the experience was enriching.
“For a number of years now I have been on a mission to better understand the Canadian Indigenous culture. This side of history was not part of my upbringing. I chose to go to the Debert Interpretive Trail event because it would provide me with a new lens, with different perspective. And it did,” she says.
“Gerald was very eloquent in presenting years of research from artifacts that have been found all over Nova Scotia that clearly demonstrate how long Indigenous peoples have been living here. But the detailed methodology he shared with us about geologic formation, and the meaning behind these different geological findings was the most fascinating part.
“For me, the Debert visit reminded me how little I know about the Indigenous ways, and how much more there is to understand. I am very grateful to have had this opportunity.”
StFX student Judith Vogt says she too really enjoyed the Mi’kmawey Interpretive Trail Tour.
“I am from Germany and generally interested in different cultures. I really enjoyed the stories that Gerald was telling and thought it was super interesting that so much knowledge from Elders was transmitted into scientific studies,” she says.
“I hadn’t spent much time thinking about the heritage of rocks and sediments from different parts of Nova Scotia, and that this knowledge can help better understand where Indigenous people got materials for their tools from. I also really liked the map that Gerald was referring to. The trail was nice as well. It was a great day. I would love to hear more stories from Gerald in the future.”
Interpretive panels are located along the trail, which is open to the public year-round. The panels share the ever-growing story of the ancestral Debert sites and featuring the artwork of Dozay Christmas. They were created by the Mi’kmawey Debert Elders’ Advisory Council.
Mr. Gloade started his career working as a graphic designer for the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources’ Communications and Education Branch more than 25 years ago. The focus of his work with the province moved from forestry education and graphic art to sharing his culture and history in the landscape and environment of Mi’kma’ki with audiences of all ages. As an artist, educator and Mi’kmaw storyteller, he guides the development of visitor and educational programs for the centre. His stories and interpretations of the Kluskap legends in particular have captured many audiences.