Daniel N. Paul - Order of Canada

Appointed on November 17, 2005.
Introduction statement at the Investment Ceremony, October 6, 2006.

"Dr. Daniel N. Paul is a powerful and passionate advocate for social justice and the eradication of racial discrimination. As an author, journalist, consultant and volunteer, he has been an outspoken champion of First Nations communities across Nova Scotia for more than 30 years. The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, the Miíkmaq Native Friendship Centre and the Confederacy of Mainland Miíkmaq have all benefitted from his consensus building skills and commitment to the community. Through his newspaper columns and his book, We Were Not the Savages, he has helped to restore the proud heritage and history of the Miíkmaq Nation"


Order of Nova Scotia


Recieving the Order of Nova Scotia medallion from Lt. Governor Myra Freeman, October 2, 2002. The Order is the Province's highest award - for "outstanding contributions and for bringing honour and prestige to Nova Scotia."


Signing the Membership Register of the Order Of Nova Scotia

Order of Nova Scotia Medallion

Nova Scotia's highest award for personal achievment

Part of the Nova Scotia government press release announcing the award:

He is a passionate writer who gives a voice to his people by revealing a past that the standard histories have chosen to ignore. He is a business manager, consultant, counsellor, historian, author, journalist, reviewer, lecturer, social commentator, and justice of the peace. A former executive director of the Confederacy of Mainland Micmacs, he is a member of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission's Mi'kmaw Advisory Committee and of the Advisory Council for Dalhousie University's Law Program for Indigenous Blacks and Mi'kmaq, and of the Nova Scotia Police Commission. He has been recognized by the Universite Sainte-Anne with an honourary Doctor of Letters Degree and by the City of Halifax with a millennium award. By bringing new understanding and perspective to the past, he seeks to teach all people what damage racism can do.


University of Sainte-Anne, Church Point, Nova Scotia

Honourary Doctor of Letters Degree

Daniel N. Paul And Wife Patricia
Daniel Awarded An Honourary Doctor of Letters Degree
University of Sainte-Anne, Church Point, Nova Scotia
June 7, 1997

Photo taken after the June 7, 1997 Convocation in the entrance hall of the University of Sainte-Anne. The lady with me is my loving wife, and best friend, Patricia.

I want to state here the vast appreciation and admiration I have for the courage Pat displayed at the time. Diagnosed with breast cancer, she had a mastectomy on May 27, 1997, but ten days later insisted on coming to the Convocation to watch me being honoured by the University. That's devotion!

Convocation Address -University of Sainte-Anne

Delivering the convocation address at the Convocation of the 1997 University of Sainte-Anne graduating class. I was permitted to deliver the Address in English, which was an extraordinary honour, because the School uses French almost exclusively. I believe I might have been the first person to have done so. It was permitted in honour of the close friendly relationship between my ancestors, the Mi'kmaq, and the Acadiens.

Nova Scotia Community College

Honorary Diploma

Nova Scotia Community College
Honorary Diploma
Mi'kmaw Elder Daniel N. Paul
June 13, 2011

Mi'kmaw Elder, Dr. Daniel N. Paul, C.M., O.N.S., awarded Honourary Diploma

On June 13, 2011, at the Convocation of the Nova Scotia Community College's Institute of Technology, held at Rebecca Cohn Auditorium, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Mi'kmaw Elder, Dr. Daniel N. Paul, C.M., O.N.S., the founding Executive Director of the Confederacy of Mainland Mi'kmaq, and the founder of the Mi'kmaq/Maliseet Nations News, was honoured with an Honourary Diploma from the Institute's School of Business.

Quote from a March 1, 2011 letter from the NSCC Board of Governors to Dr. Paul: "Each year the Board of Governors of the College recognizes a select number of individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the social and economic progress of our Province. The distinction of being awarded a Honourary Diploma is our means of celebrating your achievements in both business and community service throughout the Province."

The following is the Convocation Address Paul delivered

Convocation Address, Nova Scotia Community College - Leeds Street Campus

Good morning my friends. Graduates, it gives me great pleasure to be here at your graduation ceremony today to wish you much success in your future efforts to carve out for yourselves a happy and prosperous future in this country, and, also to be the recipient of an Honourary Diploma from your fine school, an honour that I will greatly appreciate for the rest of my days. However, I want to mention something else that adds to the pleasure of being here; this is not the first time I've received something of value from the Leeds Street Campus. In early 1970, recognizing that I needed a high school Diploma to make career progress, I studied for and wrote my GED exams at the school and consequently acquired a High School Diploma; an acquisition that was of tremendous help in achieving the career and life goals that I had set for myself.

Another important reason why I appreciate becoming part of the alumni of Nova Scotia Community Colleges is the fact that I truly believe, this opinion is derived from long years of experience, that these education entities are one of the most, if not the most, vital elements of our society. The reason is obvious; they produce the fine workers that make society work. Without the bookkeepers, clerks, mechanics, plumbers, chefs, barbers, and so on that they produce modern society would be hard pressed to function. Doctors, lawyers, and other such professionals, without having the essential help of people with skills such as yours, would not be able to carry on their duties and businesses and prosper. I arrived at such a conclusion because I've been there myself. Up until 1961 I worked at many trades and support positions, carpenter, laborer, harvester, factory worker, and many others that are too numerous to mention here. When I got into management in 1961, I remembered well the vital importance of support people, and treated them with fairness and respect. Such fair treatment is a must to have a successful existence, treat other humans with the utmost tolerance and respect, and give them human dignity, and most will respond in kind.

I've gathered a lot of the before-mentioned knowledge about people relationships from the experience of being degraded by racism. When I was born in 1938 on Shubenacadie Indian Reserve, as a Registered Indian, I was not considered a Canadian British Subject, I was a Ward of the Crown. As Wards Indians had no civil and human rights in this country; for example, we were not permitted to vote in elections, we could be barred from public places such as pool rooms without cause, it was illegal for us to buy a case of beer, and so on, and most tellingly, we had very little recourse to law. In contractual arrangements, we had the same legal status as drunks and insane persons.

Federal Indian Agents had God like powers over us, they controlled our lives from the cradle to the grave. And, most of them thought themselves to be our betters. This brings to mind an amusing story. I was a rebel since I was very young and as such not intimidated by Indian Agent authority. Thus, during a discussion with an Indian Agent in the late 1950s, I dared to disagree with him. He commented: "you're not very respectful of your betters!" I think I left him flabbergasted with this response. "The reason that you perceive such is that you assume that I've met my betters, which I haven't, and I won't until the day I die and meet my Maker, then I will concede that I've met my betters!" He was not a happy camper.

It took a long time for Registered Indians to make some progress in acquiring a measure of civil and human rights in this country, and we still have a long way to go.

We, and our ancestors, have been victimized by intolerance for centuries. Racism towards us, although not as blatant as it used to be, is still displayed openly in Nova Scotia. To get an appreciation of how openly it is displayed go to the Westin Hotel and visit Cornwallis Park across the street from it. There you will find a statue of British Colonial Governor Edward Cornwallis, a man who decided in 1749 that it would be wise to exterminate the Mi'kmaq on Peninsula Nova Scotia. To this end he issued a proclamation offering a monetary reward for the scalps of Mi'kmaq men, women and children. In view of him being the author of such a repulsive inhuman official document, why is the statue still there? Racism is the only possible answer. And, the only way that such racism, which was derived from demonizing dehumanizing colonial propaganda that depicted our people as bloodthirsty savages, can be reduced and eventually eliminated is through Education - replace the propaganda with the truth. Unfortunately, the Nova Scotia education system has yet to forcefully address the challenge.

However, happily, intolerance has been publically and forcefully addressed to some degree over the last few decades by some very notable people. For instance, in 2003, the President of a Muslim Country made the following comment about Pope John Paul II, who was visiting his country and preaching the rewards of tolerance, quote: "probably one of the first leaders of the Roman Catholic Church who preaches conciliation between civilizations and between religious confessions." Also, when discussing intolerance, it would be very remiss not to mention Nelson Mandela, a man who was severely persecuted under South Africa's apartheid system. He, despite the decades of racial abuses he suffered, counseled his South African Black Brothers and Sisters to be tolerant and not revengeful towards the Whites who had racially humiliated them for decades, and to reconcile with them. For showing such wisdom he is much acclaimed, and is today the most respected and admired person on Mother Earth.

In conclusion, I would encourage you to also be tolerant and forgiving towards your human brothers and sisters. When you view your co-workers and others do not let race, colour, religion, sexual orientation, etc., demean him/her in your eyes, but see him/her as an equal, and always treat all fellow humans with dignity and respect, your reward will be a happy and prosperous lifetime.

When you commence your career journey with your new skills, if you fall don't despair, get up and dust yourself off and try again, eventually, with determination, you will persevere. All the best and much success!

Mi'kmaw Elder, Dr. Daniel N. Paul, C.M., O.N.S., June 13, 2011


Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Doctor of Law Degree

Daniel N. Paul, Doctor of Law Degree
Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia
June 7, 1997


Mi'kmaw Elder Dr. Daniel N. Paul

October 2013 Honorary Degree Recipient

Doctor of Laws (honoris causa)

An author whose book makes the past dance before our eyes. A social activist whose commitment to his people honours their experience and pushes others to confront historic racism. A recipient of the Order of Nova Scotia and the Order of Canada, who says his most valued honours are the eagle feathers, tobacco pouches, letters and more sent to him by students as thanks for helping them better understand the importance of according all peoples human dignity and respect.

Daniel N. Paul is the man behind these achievements. A Mi'kmaq Elder, Mr. Paul has committed his life to promoting a better understanding of Mi'kmaq and Maliseet history and culture. He is the author of the landmark book We Were Not the Savages, considered the most reliable text on the history of Aboriginal Peoples in the Atlantic provinces, and described by one writer as "a brilliant and painful account of how the Mi'kmaqs were treated by the Europeans." The book is used in Native Study courses in many high schools and universities in Canada and the United States. The book, and a complementary website Mr. Paul created www.danielnpaul.com , , form "an irreplaceable contribution to the history of Atlantic Canada and to Aboriginal Peoples of Canada in general," wrote Robin Oakley of Dalhousie's Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, in preparing the nomination for this honorary degree.

Mr. Paul has dedicated his life to fighting racial discrimination and credits his family history with influencing his human rights work. His father, William Gabriel Paul, worked as a stevedore on the Saint John, New Brunswick, waterfront. After being laid off during the Great Depression, he and his family were forcibly relocated to the Indian Brook Reserve in Nova Scotia, a place they had never seen before. They were given a roll of tarpaper and told to build a shack. As Mr. Paul writes: "from birth, as Indians, we were treated as 'Wards of the Crown' and treated as third class citizens at best. We had the same legal status as drunks and insane persons."

Daniel grew up hunting, fishing and trapping, and as a young teenager sold magazines, seeds and greeting cards to earn money. At age 14, he set off for Boston. He eventually returned to Nova Scotia, stitching together what he has called a "self-education" and working for the Department of Indian Affairs. He is married and the father to three children.

Through those years, he embarked on community activism, including being the founding executive director of the Confederacy of Mainland Micmacs, initiating fundraising for a new community centre for the Indian Brook Reserve, and working to resolve land and treaty claims. He has served on the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, as a Commissioner of the Nova Scotia Police Review Board, as a member of the advisory council for Dalhousie's law program for Indigenous Blacks and Mi'kmaqs, among other commissions, committees and councils.

When awarding Mr. Paul the Order of Nova Scotia, the provincial government lauded him for bringing new understanding and perspective to the past. One significant public expression of that shift in perspective involved efforts by Mr. Paul and others to have us rethink the naming of public buildings and landmarks. In his own words: "The accomplishment that I'm most proud of is that I've lobbied successfully to have the names of buildings, roads and so on named in honour of colonial officials that brutalized the Mi'kmaq, changed." His most recent success was the groundbreaking decision to rename Cornwallis Junior High School, in Halifax.

Mr. Paul has received many accolades, including the Grand Chief Donald Marshall Sr. Memorial Elder Award, the Multicultural Education Council of Nova Scotia Award, the City of Halifax Millennium Award and the Orders of Nova Scotia and of Canada.

It is in recognition of his human rights activism, scholarly work and many accomplishments, that I ask you, Mr. Chancellor, in the name of Senate, to bestow upon Daniel N. Paul the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.


Convocation Address - Daniel N. Paul, October 8, 2013

Making a Difference

Good afternoon my friends!

It gives me great pleasure today to be among scholars who are, after years of hard work, realizing an important achievement in their lives, University Degrees! An achievement that provides each of you with an invaluable asset in your future efforts to realize other important career and lifestyle goals!

However, I do hope that the desire to make a difference in your lives, which motivated you over the last several years to earn your Degrees, will continue after today and that it will motivate you to be an active supporter and promoter of positive inclusive changes in society.

The reason I make this appeal is that I strongly believe that we should all strive to be proactive during our lifetimes and expend much personal effort towards helping to make positive societal changes that will move us faster in the direction of having no excluded and underprivileged among us. Such efforts for positive change do make a difference. For example, the results of proactive people making a difference are evident in this room today - people are present who have black, brown and other skin colors, and women, handicapped, etc., most of whom would not be here if brave and conscientious individuals had not in the past mustered the courage to step forward and say, enough, I want inclusion for all

Until recent times exclusion based on race and other factors was widespread and strictly adhered to in Canada. Sadly, Nova Scotia was among the provinces where exclusion was very strictly applied. As an example of how widespread and open exclusion of non Caucasians was in this Country and Province during the 20th century I'll cite the following racist based gems.

In 1938, the year I was born a Status Indian on Shubenacadie Indian Reserve, we were classified by the British North America Act as Wards of the Canadian Crown, a Status that gave us the same legal rights as drunks and insane persons. Resulting from the trust responsibilities for Indians and Indian lands that the BNA Act placed on the Canadian government it, in 1876, enacted the Indian Act to provide it with the legal means to responsibly administer it's constitutional responsibilities. Among the Act's racist provisions was one that made it illegal for lawyers to work for us without first obtaining permission from the Federal Crown. All federal Indian Affairs programs, including education and health, were begot by politicians and bureaucrats with one goal in mind, solve the Indian Problem, assimilate the Tribes out of existence.

In the Nova Scotia of that era African Nova Scotians and our people were the most denied. Both Peoples were barred from many establishments, segregated services for both communities were common. The Nova Scotia Justice system was feared and viewed as the enemy by both communities, the RCMP were the enforcers and chief persecutors. Justice was not ours. I'll relate one of many instances of perverted justice: Junior Marshall, after being wrongfully convicted of murder was told by a Nova Scotia Supreme Court justice during his appeal of his wrongful conviction that "he was the architect of his own misfortunes." The list of such instances is endless

It takes people of courage to make a difference. To this end there were many prominent promoters of civil and human rights who came forward over the last several decades to do peaceful battle for equality and justice, high among them were such luminaries as Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Nelson Mandela. However, let's not lose sight of the fact that there were a multitude of individuals who were also on the front lines and suffered the consequences for demanding equality.

The late Dr. Carrie Best, a very prominent African Nova Scotia activist, comes to mind. During the 1930s, at a time when white supremacy was still running very high in this Province, she was producing and distributing a news letter encouraging her people to press harder for equality. I told her in the early 1990s that from my own experience with white supremacist thinking during my youth, and more so in the 1980s and since, that I thought she was a most courageous person to have dared to openly challenge white society at that point in time. Her response was "I've watched you walk into a few fires during the last few years and you probably felt some fear, but for you, as with me then, the cry of our people for justice and equality was and is far more important than the fear of physical harm."

Because of the stigma of being wrongfully depicted by Caucasian society as the descendants of uncivilized savages of an inferior culture, something that we were taught in Indian Day and Residential schools in the 1940s, I undertook in the mid 1980s the task of changing Nova Scotia's negative view of my people the Mi'kmaq. It strikes me as weird in the extreme that the victims who had their lands stolen and were almost exterminated in the process were and are viewed as the culprits and the British aggressors were and are viewed as the heros. To begin the process of dispelling such nonsense I wrote a book in 1993 entitled We Were Not the Savages. The first edition was published in 1993, I encourage you to read the 2006 edition, its contents are eye openers.

Since then, from some quarters, I've been told and asked some shocking things, a few examples: "how dare you be so disrespectful of my sainted ancestors who did so much for your people, educating and civilizing them, you don't have any appreciation of what wondrous things my ancestors did for your people do you?" and this one especially got my dander up - "you're not very respectful of your betters are you?"

Such statements were uttered by individuals who had absolutely no knowledge of the fact that the Mi'kmaq, before the European invasion of the Americas, had one of the highest standards of living in the world and a culture that included social programs such as child and elder care, it also had marriages, divorces, etc. Sharing and honour were the cornerstones of Mi'kmaq culture, two items that were not then items of much interest in European cultures.

Today, because of my efforts, and the efforts of many more individuals such as the late Chief Noel Doucette and Sister Dorothy Moore, a lot more true Mi'kmaq history is being taught in Nova Scotia schools, however, there is a long way to go.

In closing, I want to acknowledge that many of you are leaving here today heavily burdened by student loans which will take years and much sacrifice on your part to retire. To me, in a rich country such as Canada, such a situation is unacceptable. In my estimation, this is a view I've shared publicly many times before, free post secondary education for all Canadians must be considered a right of citizenship and be implemented as soon as humanely possible, and all outstanding student loans forgiven.

Good luck and may you all enjoy much success!