Two Mi'kmaq Elders celebrating birthdays, December 2017
The late Doug Knockwood his 88th and my 79nt
Mi’kmaq Friendship Center, Halifax, Nova Scotia

First Nations Eighty Year Timeline, 1938 - 2018

December 5, 2018

By Mi'kmaw Saqmawiey (Eldering) (Dr.) Daniel N. Paul, C.M., O.N.S., LLD, DLIT

On December 5, 2018, I saw eighty years come and go, therefore, I decided it would be an ideal time to write an overview of what has happened to Registered Indians (First Nation Band Members) in Canada over that period of time. Much of what is to follow can also be applied to most of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas. The following is not a fully inclusive overview, to review the full story read Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee , We Were Not the Savages , 1491 , and other non Eurocentric history books that were written by knowledgeable Indigenous and non-Indigenous authors about the viable civilizations that existed in the Americas prior to the European invasion.

An example of how varied and advanced the Civilizations of the Americas were is revealed by Charles C. Mann in a research paper he had published in 2005:

“Some urban dwellers lived in cities and towns that had running water, sewage systems, and other amenities that were not then known in Europe.”

“Tenochtitlán dazzled its invaders-it was bigger than Paris, Europe’s greatest metropolis. The Spaniards gawped like yokels at the wide streets, ornately carved buildings, and markets bright with goods from hundreds of miles away...Long aqueducts conveyed water from the distant mountains...into the city. Even more astounding than the great temples and immense banners and colorful promenades were the botanical gardens–none existed in Europe. The same novelty attended the force of a thousand men that kept the crowded streets immaculate. (Streets that weren’t ankle-deep in sewage! The conquistadores had never conceived of such a thing.)”

Eighty years ago, December 5, 1938, First Nation Status Band members in Canada were legally classed as Wards of the Crown. This classification resulted from Section 91:24 of the British North America Act (1867), which was Canada's Constitution until 1981. The Section gave exclusive legislative jurisdiction for "Indians and lands reserved for the Indians" to the federal government. The inclusion of it mandated that the Canadian Government held trustee responsibilities for Indians and lands reserved for Indians. Therefore, upon Confederation of British North America colonies in 1867, the title to all Indian Reserve lands, which had been set aside by the various British Colonial Governments for the use and benefit of our ancestors, were transferred to the new Canadian government to be held in trust and managed in the best interests of Bands and their membership.

Although the title of our lands are held by the Federal government we have usufructuary rights in the land that cannot be legally alienated without our consent. The incompetent administration of this legal responsibility by the Federal Crown would in future years cause it to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to settle lawsuits. During my career I’ve read reams of material contained in federal government files related to Indigenous land claim issues, and other related federal legal files, and, from the information contained therein, came to the conclusion that the Departmental incompetents, either being white supremacist or just plain stupid, or a combination of both, perhaps believing in the colonial assessment that our People were intellectual shortchanged, and thus they could never be capable of putting it all together and seek justice and compensation for the misdeeds done them, recorded their misdeeds in minute detail. At that time, and for a considerable time afterwards, we had the same legal status as mentally incompetent persons and drunks.

Click to read: Canadian Confederation - 1867 

Racist practices against people of colour in Nova Scotia at that time were rampant, in fact, because of it many from the Black and Mi’kmaq communities referred to the Province as the Mississippi of Canada. Like Blacks our People were barred from many hotels, restaurants, etc. Segregation, although not legislated, was openly practiced. Viola Irene Desmond, a Black Nova Scotian businesswoman challenged racial segregation at a cinema in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, in 1946 and was fined for it. Many municipal garbage dumps were located near Mi'kmaw and African Nova Scotia communities, which led to many voicing that if you wanted to find either community find a dump.

Also, in 1938, the dehumanizing of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas by European colonial demonizing propaganda was still widely instilled in the non Indigenous populations of Canada and the USA. And, as if the burden caused by it wasn't already bad enough, it was still being added too. A good example of the sad state of affairs that our People lived under because of it, and the resulting contempt that we were held in by non Indigenous society at the time is what happened to five of us on a New Year's Eve trip to New York City in the mid 1950s. We were planning on staying at the YMCA and YWCA, hostels where none of us had stayed before. When we asked our taxi driver if he knew if anyone could stay at the places mentioned, his response: "Yes, anyone except dogs and Indians."

And movies, especially the Eurocentric Cowboys (heros) and Indians (bloodthirsty savages) ones, and racist books, etc. added to the discrimination being suffered. In the case of the Mi’kmaq, fortifying the false perception of them as uncivilized savages, Thomas H. Raddall, a famous Nova Scotia Author, had published in 1944, Roger Sudden, a novel, touted by many uninformed Caucasians as based on historical fact. In it, with him not knowing one iota about the Mi’kmaq, he depicts our People as dirty barbarous savages.

At that time Canadian First Nations Peoples lived in what can only be described for us as a segregated and semi totalitarian state. Department of Indian Affairs Indian Agents had complete power over us and could do almost anything negative to us they wanted without fear of penalty. Housing, clothing, food rations, etc. were ladled out, or withheld, at their discretion, with no appeal process. Children were often sized without parental consent and placed in Indian Residential Schools. Behind their backs, because of the unchallengeable God like power they held over us, many Indian Agents were called Jesus Christ. The Canadian justice system, including courts and police forces, were mostly staffed by racists, thus, recourse for injustices committed against us was very limited.

In 1938, the Canadian Indian Act included provisions that were out and out racist. Examples, certain traditional dances by band members were illegal, poolroom access was restricted, liquor provisions that made it illegal for Indians to have in their possession, internally or externally, alcohol beverages, also there was a provision that made it illegal for a lawyer to take on a lawsuit on behalf of a Band without the consent of the Superintendent General of Indian Affairs. An example of exclusion: We could not vote in federal and provincial elections. The alcohol provisions were strictly enforced until the early 1970s, I can vouch for this as I was victimized by it on several occasions.

The living conditions of the vast majority of Band members at the time were, to say the least, pathetic. Homes were mostly tar paper shacks and uninsulated shells without any amenities, food rations were the bare essentials needed to survive, as a result malnutrition was widespread, which created a condition where many common illnesses were fatal.

Indian Residential schools and Indian Day Schools were hard at work trying to take the Indigenous out of the Indigenous. In these schools children were taught that they were the spawn of barbarous and uncivilized cultures. And, of course, the right way was the White way. The enthusiastic enforcers in charge of these institutions, putting aside their traditional hatred for one another, as they did when using the Pope's Doctrine of Discovery (1493)  to steal our lands, were Christian denominations such as the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican and United Churches, etc. Because of the racist attitudes of the educators, these schools actually greatly hampered our need for, and acquisition of advanced education. The vast majority of Status students attending them had only one goal, escaping them!

Interestingly, the other severely discriminated against visible minority at the time in Nova Scotia, African Nova Scotians, also had a similar institution set up for them, the Home for Colored Children.  

Medical experimentation also took place at these institutions. This barbaric example, reported in the May 8, 2000, issue of Maclean's magazine, highlights the fact that Canada has instances in its history that are a throwback to the actions of those governing in the Dark Ages:

“Natives denied dental care-Federal government doctors withheld specialized dental care, such as professional cleaning and treatment of decay, for aboriginal children living in eight residential schools in the 1940s and 1950s to see what the effect would be on their health. The director of the study, Dr. L.B. Pett, said last week that students' teeth and gums were in terrible condition to begin with, and that delaying treatment did not create more decay, but helped keep the study's results accurate.” Anyone who has suffered a chronic toothache for a short period of time can appreciate the horrific pain that these kids were forced to suffer over a long period of time.

Such views about experiments using people deemed by a society's government "inferior" as guinea pigs were expressed by another majority group, the Nazis. As might be expected from a systemically racist society, to my knowledge, not one word of condemnation has been uttered about this revelation from any level of government or human rights commission in Canada.

The following racist activity by the Canadian Government took place in Canada's Maritime Provinces. In the early 1940s, the federal government decided that it would be in the best interest of realizing its goal of absorbing our People out of existence to centralize all Registered Indians in the Maritimes unto four Indian Reserves, two in Nova Scotia and two in New Brunswick, where it would be easier to get the job of assimilation done. Incidentally, USSR leader Joseph Stalin did the same in that country to a cultural group that he found troublesome.

Click to read about Centralization: Canada's Shame - Centralization 

In 1947, Canada enacted the Canadian Citizenship Act, which supposedly included us, however, we were still treated as third class citizens and widely marginalized and excluded.

In 1948, at the United Nations, the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights was signed. Canada, because it had a lot of housecleaning of racist laws to revoke, which was deemed necessary to promote an image worldwide of being a promoter of human rights, did not ratify it until 1952. Most people of Indigenous and African ancestry didn't notice much change because unwritten racism continued to oppress them quite openly for many, many years to come.

In 1950, because the pesky Indians would not cooperate in the effort to kill their culture, the Centralization Plan was abolished by the Federal Government. Chief Ben Christmas of Membertou was foremost among the many Mi'kmaq who opposed it from day one.

Ben would have been amused, but not surprised, by this white supremacist racist appraisal of his intelligence by the Indian Agent at Eskasoni in a memo dated March 1, 1943:

"It appears that Ben Christmas, an Indian of Membertou Reserve, Sydney, NS, who is considered to be somewhat more intelligent than the ordinary Indian. . ." Mr. MacLean obviously had a low opinion about the intelligence of Native Americans and was amazed Mr. Christmas could rise above his standard.

The failure of Centralization set off an exodus of Mi'kmaq and Maliseet from the Maritimes, including me, in search of a better existence, mostly to Boston. We soon found out how much Canada had failed us, education wise we could only aspire, with few exceptions, to low paying jobs. However, I believe these experiences planted in us the seeds that would move us to demand better treatment when we began returning to Canada in the late 1950s and 1960s.

In 1951, prior to Canada ratifying the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it amended the Indian Act to remove some of its most racist provisions. However, the Alcohol and Enfranchisement provisions remained.

In the 1960s the Federal Government began to close Indian Residential Schools. However, at the same time, it was involved in what was labeled scoop, many First Nation children were “apprehended” from their biological parents and placed in adopted homes around the world, where many suffered physical and sexual abuse. Some, not all, through the work of Indigenous and non Indigenous social groups have been reunited and reacquainted with their families and Cultures.

In 1961, under the leadership of Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, Canada finally enacted legislation that permitted us to vote in the Country's elections. Doctors and other professional were no longer appointed to administer to the needs of Band Members by the Federal Government based on their political affiliation. Ration paper orders were finally abolished and welfare assistance was paid by cheque, which permitted Band Members to shop where they wished.

Acquiring the right to vote had a positive effect, politicians, especially those whose constituencies included large Indigenous populations, had to start taking our concerns seriously and react to them in a thoughtful and positive manner.

In 1965, one of the greatest instance of environmental racism that would occur in Canada was undertaken by the Nova Scotia Provincial Government, with the full support of the Federal government, it was connected to the establishment of a pulp mill at Abercrombie Point, Pictou County, Nova Scotia. It was decided by the powers that be that Boat Harbour, adjacent to the Pictou Landing Indian Reserve, would be used as a lagoon for the millions of gallons of toxic industrial waste that would spew from the plant daily.

One of the biggest lies, of a multitude, that were used by both the Feds and the Provincials to entice the Band members to give up their Riparian Rights in the Harbour was that the Harbour's water would suffer no ill effects from the industrial effluent and that the Members could use it for swimming, fresh water fishing, etc. Unfortunately, many young Band Members took them at their word and continued to swim in the Harbour for months after it began to receive toxic industrial waste.

In 1967, the Nova Scotia Government enacted the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act, which did not include the Mi'kmaq.

In 1968, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the American Indian movement was founded. In Canada, in 1982, the National Indian Brotherhood morphed into the Assembly of First Nations. Both organizations, although sometimes involved in controversial undertakings, did, by their existence, inform both the American and Canadian governments that we were no longer willing to suffer being treated by them as the spawn of uncivilized barbarians and in that regard we wanted and expected radical attitudinal changes.

In 1969, the Canadian Government, under Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, came out with a White Paper Policy, which envisioned that it would, after full implementation, produce the complete assimilation of Canada's Indigenous population into the masses. The project, to be legally implemented, required a Constitutional amendment to remove Section 91:24 of the British North America Act. In view of the assimilation goal of the Policy it was quickly rejected by all of Canada's First Nations and, because it would have saddled them with huge expenses, the Provinces, which also would have had to agree to the Constitutional amendment. In light of almost universal opposition the Trudeau government abandoned the project.

Also, in 1969, the Union of Nova Scotia Indians was founded, it's first president was Chief Noel Doucette.  Roy Gould started publishing the Mic Mac News.

Because of what you've read so far about the racism suffered by our People, and the contents of the remainder of this narrative, which reveals a great deal more of it, I want you to read what I included on the first page of We Were Not the Savages.

“Why First Nation histories, penned by First Nation authors, are urgently needed was nicely articulated in a March 18, 2005, memo sent to me by Chuck LeCain, a retired high school history teacher of 31 years: 'Until the lion has his historian, the hunter will always be the hero' (unknown.) “For more than a decade you have been the lion's historian. Take pride in knowing that you have assisted countless others, not only to review, but to re-think history. I gained greatly from your writings. Wela'lin (thank you)!”

In 1970, Dee Brown's Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee  was published. It and positive movies, which began to tell the true story of the wonderful fully viable Indigenous cultures that existed in the Americas prior to the beginning of the European invasion in 1492, and other future books such as Stolen Continents,  We Were Not the Savages , 1491 , etc., were slowly but surely changing attitudes in both Canada and the USA.

The following statement by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.  in his 1963 book Why We Can't Wait , which outlined the historic injustices inflicted on Native people Indigenous to what is now the USA, can also be applied to Canada's mistreatment of its Indigenous Peoples.

"Our nation was born in genocide when it embraced the doctrine that the original American, the Indian, was an inferior race. Even before there were large numbers of Negroes on our shores, the scar of racial hatred had already disfigured colonial society. From the sixteenth century forward, blood flowed in battles over racial supremacy. We are perhaps the only nation which tried as a matter of national policy to wipe out its indigenous population. Moreover, we elevated that tragic experience into a noble crusade. Indeed, even today we have not permitted ourselves to reject or to feel remorse for this shameful episode. Our literature, our films, our drama, our folklore all exalt it. "

In the 1970s the Department of Indian Affairs started to build modern houses and install modern housing amenities in them on Indian Reserves. Outhouses were to become things of the past!

The devolution of Indian Affairs programs to Bands (First Nations) for administration was started in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This did not, at first, prove successful. The cause of it was that the vast majority of Indian Affairs bureaucrats, who were charged with helping Band employees set up administrative and financial accountability processes, and for training them in how to perform the duties required to manage them successfully, had no expertise whatsoever in the accounting and administrative fields that they were advising and training the Band employees to perform in. It is to big a story to be told here, however, if you want to read about the whole story, it can be found in We Were Not the Savages. A quote from it:

“During the early 1970s, one of the biggest unexposed scandals that took place was the way the Department (DIAND) handled the "devolution of programs" to Bands. Taxpayers would have been outraged at the time had they known how this was mishandled. Millions upon millions of dollars were distributed by bureaucrats to Band governments without ensuring that they had the wherewithal to manage and account for the funds.”

And guess who got the blame for creating the ensuing financial mess? We did of course!

One of the programs that we started to take over administration of was education, and out of all the Programs that we began to administer, it would be the one that in the long run would produce the most positive results. In 1970 there were only a few students graduating highschool and going on to higher learning, today, 2018, there are thousands graduating high school and moving on to attend universities and Community Colleges throughout the Maritimes and the rest of Canada.

Also, it removed, what was often a humiliating experience for students applying for financial assistance to attend such institutions when dealing with Indian Agents, and, after 1971, non-Indian Indian Affairs education staff. My experience in 1960, when I asked the Indian Agent for financial assistance to attend Business College is a good example of it, his response: “Why don't you get a pick and shovel and do what you're best suited for.”

In 1971, the Indian Agencies at Eskasoni and Shubenacadie Indian Reserves were closed, no more Indian Agents to deal with, and I and others Status Indians, i.e. Stella Paul, Adrian Morris, were recruited by the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development to work at its newly created Nova Scotia District Office in Halifax and sub-office in Sydney. It was publicized as part of the Indianization of the Department. The same took place in New Brunswick, a District office was created at Fredericton. However, the Department soon lamented that it couldn't find qualified Status Indians to fill vacant positions.

In 1973, Donald Marshall Jr. , who was sixteen at the time when the murder occurred, was later wrongly convicted of committing it and sentenced, when he was seventeen, to life in an adult male prison. Now I want you all to take a moment and put yourselves into a seventeen year old innocent Mi'kmaw boy's shoes and contemplate the terror that he must have felt when in 1971, in chains and in shackles, he was delivered into the hands of the Warden of Dorchester penitentiary, Dorchester, New Brunswick, a most forbidding and foreboding looking place when you are just passing by it, and not looking at it as your future home for years to come! Devastating isn't it? It was racism at its worst! In my opinion the main reason that he was tried and convicted for a crime he didn't commit was that he was a Mi'kmaw! When he was finally exonerated twenty years later his experience, and the terrible worldwide negative publicity that Canada and it's Province of Nova Scotia received, led to the complete overhaul of the Nova Scotia justice system and the Canadian justice system to some extent. He later received monetary compensation, but, no compensation can compensate for the loss of one's youth!

Many positive social programs resulted from to Donald's horrific experience. Dalhousie University's TYP (Transition Year Program) which has assisted a great many Indigenous and African Nova Scotians, who were previously left behind by the less than welcoming for people of colour Nova Scotia education system, to achieve entrance into University Degree Programs. Also, the INDIGENOUS BLACKS & MI'KMAQ INITIATIVE which has assisted many from both communities to acquire law degrees and admittance to the Nova Scotia Bar. In 1993 James (Jim) Michael became the first Mi'kmaw to be admitted to the Nova Scotia Bar.

It would be remiss not to mention the late Burnley "Rocky" Jones , who was one of the most effective persons involved in setting up both programs. He was also an avid advocate for all persons that were excluded and discriminated against because of racial origins.

“Burnley Allan "Rocky" Jones was an African-Nova Scotian and an internationally known political activist in the areas of human rights, race and poverty. He rose to prominence first as a member of the Students Union for Peace Action during the 1960s and later as a successful lawyer. Wikipedia”

In 1981 the Canadian Constitution was repatriated from Great Britain, it was officially proclaimed on April 17, 1982. Section 35 was added, which was supposedly meant to lead to, among other things, self-government for First Nations, which, thirty seven years later, although they are still talking, hasn't happened yet!

Section 35 of the Constitution Act states: 35. (1) The existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed. (2) In this Act, “aboriginal peoples of Canada” includes the Indian, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada. The conflict between it and Section 91-24 has been litigated several times in the Nation’s courts.

Also, in 1981, I was appointed District Superintendent of Lands Revenues and Trusts for the Nova Scotia District. Putting a lie to the Department's claim that it could not find qualified Indians to fill job positions I staffed my component with Registered Indians. This prompted my supervisor to tell me that some Caucasian person might file a human rights complaint against me for discrimination. I'll let you guess what I told him!

After my appointment, one of my first visitors was an old friend, Raymond Francis , Chief of the Pictou Landing Band. The reason for his visit was his frustration with trying to get something done about the pollution of Boat Harbour by toxic industrial waste from the pulp Mill. It's too long of a story to relate here, however you can read about it in detail in We Were Not the Savages. I will note that one of the things that pissed me off fully then and still does at this point in time is the following statement by an engineer when discussing the acquisition of the title to lands adjacent to Boat Harbour owned by white people and what monetary compensation they would receive. Their land had to be acquired because it was deemed unfit for humans to live next to the stinking lagoon. A question was asked “what about the Indians?” the response, “so, they're only Indians”.

In 1985 the Supreme Court of Canada, adjudicating the James Simon Case, recognized that our Treaties with the British were valid treaties. It should be kept in mind that virtually all of the treaties that First Nations have seen validated since have been through the court system and not recognized as valid voluntarily by the Federal and Provincial Governments!

The Simon Case brought to the forefront the stereotype of the barbarian uncivilized savage Mi’kmaq, that was created by the demonizing dehumanizing colonial British propaganda of its colonial days, which was still viewed as fact by a large portion of the non Indigenous population of Nova Scotia. Racist garbage was spewed out with abandon by Caucasians about what our irresponsible conduct would be after we signed, related to the Decision, a Hunting Agreement with Nova Scotia.

The news media was complicit in spreading the racist garbage created by the fear mongers. One headline I’ll never forget was “there will be a bloodbath of our wildlife from Cape Breton to Yarmouth”. I was Executive Director of the Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq at the time and I spent countless hours refuting the garbage on radio, TV, newspapers, etc. I spent over $25,000 on newspaper ads that refuted the racist baloney and wrote a book entitled The Confrontation of Micmac and European Civilizations (out of print), which included the Treaties, Proclamations, etc.

Click to read: James Simon Case - Supreme Court of Canada 

In 1985, Canada abolished the enfranchisement and alcohol provisions of the Indian Act. The Enfranchisement provision was used by it to strip Indian Status from Indian women who married non Indians and give Indian Status to non Indian women who married Registered Indian men. Bill C 31 also included provisions for the re-instatement of the women who had lost status and their children. And imagine this, we could finally have in our possession, externally or internally, a pint of beer and, like other Canadians, not be charged and jailed or fined for it!

In late 1985, I left the Department and established for six Bands Atlantic Canada's first Tribal Council, the Confederacy of Mainland Mi'kmaq.

Click to read: Confederacy of Mainland Mi'kmaq 

In 1987, I started a campaign to have the statute of Governor Edward Cornwallis, the man who issued on October 2, 1749 a proclamation for the scalps of Mi'kmaq men, women and children, removed from a pedestal in the City of Halifax. It finally came down in 2018. The fate of the statue and park named in his honour has not been decided at this time.

In 1990, with the assistance of Rick Simon, I started the publication of the Mi'kmaq/Maliseet Nations News.

In the early 1990s the Pictou Landing Band settled its law suit with Canada for $35 million, plus other assets, however, the cleanup of the Harbour has not occurred yet, but, the Province has committed to having it done by the early 2020s.

Over the decades hundreds of Indigenous women have disappeared without a trace, presumably most of them were raped and murdered and their bodies disposed of in isolated locations as if they were useless trash. The following URL, which gives a review of Just Another Indian, vividly expands on the subject.

Serial Killer - John Martin Crawford 

Related to the above mentioned, a Royal Commission has been set up to investigate the issue, its findings should be made public in 2019.

Royal Commission on missing Aboriginal Women 

In 1991, the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act was amended to include the Mi'kmaq.

In 1993, I had published the first edition of We Were Not the Savages , the latest edition was published in 2006. Nova Scotia Premier John Savage was the key note speaker at the 1993 book launching. Geoffrey Plank, Associate Professor of History, University of Cincinnati at the time made the following comment about it, December 7, 2000.

"We Were Not the Savages...is a unique, in chronological scope and in the story it tells, covering the last three centuries of Mi'kmaq history in detail. Prior to the appearance of this book it was common for historians to downplay or even deny the violence inflicted on the Mi'kmaq people by European and Euro-American colonizers. This work, more than any other piece of scholarly production, has headed off that consensus at a pass. Scalp-bounty policies are now recognized as a historical problem worthy of investigation.”

To assure that the message of the damage that white supremacist racism, which is revealed in the book, could do to its victims was read by those who would make future decisions that were conducive to the future well being of Canada's First Nations Peoples I sent free copies to all the Supreme Courts in Canada, the federal and provincial governments, etc.

In 1994, I started writing newspaper columns for the Halifax Chronicle Herald, which undertaking lasted for ten years. Both the book and many of my columns were written to tell the real history of Indigenous, British and Canada relations, which up to this point was mostly white washed Eurocentric baloney.

On November 5, 1997, an event that falls in the realm of believe it or not took place in Nova Scotia, it exposed a lack of knowledge of history by some and racist views by others. Nova Scotia Transportation and Public Works Minister Don Downe, to honour the memory of the Mass Bay British Colony bounty hunter Captain John Gorham, cut a ribbon that officially named a connector road, between Bedford and Sackville, Captain John Gorham Boulevard. Gorham and his bounty hunting Rangers were sent to Nova Scotia in 1744 to collect Mi'kmaw saclps by Massachuetts Bay British Governor William Shirley, who, at the request of Nova Scotia British Governor Paul Mascarene, had declared war on the Mi’kmaq and in the declaration he offered a bounty for the scalps of Mi’kmaw men, women and children.

After I hit the roof because of it, and instituted a public campaign that exposed the racism involved in the choice, the street was renamed Duke Street. The full story can be read at this URL: John Gorham Controversy 

In 1999 the Donald Marshall Jr. fishing case was decided by the Supreme Court of Canada in favour of the appellant, which opened up the means for a commercial fishery to be reestablished in First Nation Communities throughout the Maritimes and beyond. It initially created quite a ruckus among Caucasian fishers, who envisioned that their lively hood would be wiped out by those interloping Mi'kmaq. Not much thought was given among them that the Mi'kmaq were the original fishers in Maritime waters.

As in the Simon case blatant racism came to the forefront, unsubstantiated charges of irresponsible future damaging conduct by our People to the fisheries were made with abandon by many. And, as in the Simon case, were not realized.

It also shed light on the ignorance of history among the general population. As the Mi'kmaq and Acadiens had quite a congenial relationship until the 1750s, intermarriages etc., when the British put an end to it by issuing scalp proclamations for Mi'kmaq scalps and Deportation for the Acadiens . I still grin when I think about a young Acadien man shouting at a Mi'kmaq fishing vessel's crew of Mi'kmaq off the shores of ESGENOÔPETITJ (Burnt Church) “To Bad our ancestors didn't finish what they were doing to yours.” I'm sure an Acadien Elder must have took time to clue the young man in.

Click to read the Marshall Fishing Case: Donald Marshall Jr. Decision 

In 2009 President Obama signed a Bill that included an apology to the Indigenous Peoples of the USA for past wrongs. The version signed by Obama became watered down, not making a direct apology from the government, but rather apologizing “on behalf of the people of the United States to all Native peoples for the many instances of violence, maltreatment, and neglect inflicted on Native peoples by citizens of the United States.” It was not widely publicized, I call it the silent apology! Being a member of a race of people who were widely victimized over the centuries by racial discrimination one would think that Obama would have followed King's 1963 lead and made sure it was spread far and wide. It can be read at the following URL.

American Apology To Native Americans 

On June 11, 2008 at 5:23 PM EDT, Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper rose in Canada's House of Commons and delivered a residential schools apology. It was widely publicized.

“Mr. Speaker, I stand before you today to offer an apology to former students of Indian residential schools. The treatment of children in Indian residential schools is a sad chapter in our history....” It was widely publicized. It can be read a this URL:

Click to read about the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School and Harper's apology: Indian Residential Schools 

This led to the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission spoke to thousands of survivors and found that what took place in residential schools in Canada amounted to cultural genocide of Indigenous Peoples.

Click to read the report: Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada 

Columbus Day is still recognized in 46 of the 50 States of the USA, it is held on the second Monday of October. Many of the country's jurisdictions now celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day instead. Canada, in this instance, is on the right side of history, it does not have a Columbus Day.

Click to read: Christopher Columbus 

With the appointment of Senator Daniel (Dan) Christmas , October 27, 2016, by Prime Justin Trudeau to the Canadian Senate the total exclusion of Nova Scotia's status Mi'kmaq from the halls of federal political power came to an end. However, as of this date, no Registered Mi'kmaq has ever been appointed or elected to a provincial seat of political power.

During the October 21, 2019, Canadian Federal election, Jaime Battiste, a member of the Potlotek Band, was elected Liberal member for the Nova Scotia riding of Sydney-Victoria. His election marks the first time that a Nova Scotia Mi'kmaw First Nation Band member has been elected by Nova Scotians to sit as one of their representative in Canada's Parliament since the Country was created by the British North America Act in 1867.

As most of you have been around for the last two decades, I won't say too much more about the 2000s, except that finally there seems to be a real effort by Canada and the provinces to find reconciliation with our First Nations Peoples, but the country still has a lot of its racist past to own up to. I.e., the attempted extermination of the Maliseet and Mi'kmaq by the British in the 1750s, using scalp proclamations,  the extermination of the Beothuk , etc. Until such time as all of the injustices have been acknowledged we must be diligent and keep up the fight for justice!

The following are a selection of URLs with some history that might interest you.

My Bio, Daniel Paul - Mi'kmaw Elder: Daniel N. Paul - Bio 

My novel, Chief Lightening Bolt: Chief Lightening Bolt 

American Indian Genocide: American Indian Genocide 

Donna Loring 

Native American History - Maine 


History URLs 

Copyright 2018 Daniel N. Paul

No part of this article may be used for commercial purposes without written permission from the Author.