Hundreds of people came out to celebrate Grand Pré 2017, a peace and friendship gathering between the Acadian and Mi’kmaq people. (Emma Davie/CBC) While organizers of The Grand Pré 2017 event say it was a big success, they’re confident it’s just the beginning of a rekindled relationship between the Francophone and Indigenous people in Nova Scotia.
Hundreds of people took to Grand Pré National Historic Site in the Annapolis Valley over the past weekend — despite the rainy skies and muddy grass — in what was dubbed a celebration of peace and friendship.
Morley Googoo, regional chief of the Assembly of First Nations for Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, said they have new allies in the Acadian people.
"We had amazing, incredible feedback way beyond my expectations and I really welcome that," Googoo said. "I think this gathering here is only the tip of the iceberg of many more events to come." Similarities between the two groups
Marie-Claude Rioux, the executive director of the Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse and co-chair of Grand Pré 2017, said she saw lots of mingling over the weekend and people learning about the links between the Acadians and Mi’kmaq.
"We’ve lost touch with the Mi’kmaq people. So for Acadians, it’s very important we recreate this relationship and we learn to live together again and to share and appreciate what we have in common," Rioux said. Marie-Claude Rioux, the executive director of the Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse and co-chair of Grand Pre 2017, says she was pleased to see so many people mingling and learning over the weekend. (Emma Davie/CBC) She added that even today, the two groups have words, fishing techniques and culinary styles that are similar.
"We have so many things that are still very much alive when you think about it. But the problem is we don’t think about it enough. So this is a venue, an opportunity for us to reflect about that," she said. New narrative in Canada
Joe Googoo, left, works on a groundhog hide at Grand Pré 2017. He’s been hideworking since he was 10 years old and trapping since he was eight. (Emma Davie/CBC) Googoo said in a time of reconciliation, these gatherings are important for creating a new narrative in Canada about the country’s Indigenous communities.
"Someone has to be an ally in Canada to start saying, no, there are indigenous issues that are important to all Canadians to understand, and Canadians have to be part of that narrative. And we build from that and we grow from that," Googoo said.
"This time, when people leave here and they talk about native issues, they’ll say, ‘No, no, that’s not correct.’ Or, ‘We should do something about these Indigenous issues,’ and that’s what’s happening right here."
Both Googoo and Rioux spoke highly of the peaceful relationship between the Mi’kmaq and Acadians that began back in 1604.
But after this weekend, both groups feel this is the first step in returning to that friendship. Organizers say this weekend was just the tip of the iceberg in the newly rekindled relationship between Francophone and Indigenous communities. (Emma Davie/CBC) "Now that we know a little bit more about those neighbours, let’s get acquainted more and let’s start a real dialogue," Rioux said.
"Let’s do more cooperation together, more partnerships, and I think that’s what we’re going to see in the next years."
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