The Acadia First Nation Kepapskitk gathering will take place at the Queens County Museum Sunday, July 3 from 11:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.
Kapabskitk is a Mi'kmaq word meaning where the waters meet. Judy Boutilier, cultural officer of Acadia First Nations, says the name of the cultural day was chosen because of the First Nations history of gathering around the water, specifically the Mersey River in Queens County.
The day is put aside every year to showcase the culture and traditions of the Mi’Kmaq in this area. This July will be the second year Kapabskitk is held on Privateer weekend in partnership with the Queens County Museum.
Opening ceremonies will begin at 11:30 a.m. with piping in of the guests by piper Ross Myers. Prayer and a smudging ceremony, as well as O Kanata by the Si’Pu drummers will follow. Guest speakers include tourism minister Percy Paris, Acadia First Nations Chief Deborah Robinson, MP Gerald Keddy, and MLA Vicki Conrad.
Throughout the day there will be a wide variety of activities and presentations, including Mi’Kmaq dancers, drumming songs, and workshops.
“There will be beading leather pouches, face painting, storytelling, things like that,” says Boutilier. “We'll have workshops for the young people and the older people.”
Boutilier says the artisan fair with Acadia First Nations people doing their crafts is something that has been quite popular in previous years, and is a successful day for those selling what they bring.
“Some is more traditional Mi'Kmaq stuff, some is how it's evolved to fit in with today’s work,” she says. “It's kind of traditions and culture of then and now.”
There will also be a variety of different cultural foods available, such as pulled moose sandwiches, bannock, and traditional teas. Boutilier says the teas are made from things gathered in the woods, like berries.
“Last year we had two different kinds,” she says. “People have the opportunity to try the teas, and ask what medicinal purposes they would have been used for.”
A large 17-foot birchbark canoe built by Tod Labrador at the Museum of the Atlantic, which was only launched in May, will also be on display.
To change things around a little bit, Boutilier says some of the younger First Nations members will be doing some performances.
“Some of our younger members have spent some time learning a few of the Mi'Kmaq songs, so we're going to showcase them,” she says.
Boutilier says she thinks the event certainly helps First Nations people on the South Shore communicate with Queens County about who they are. Showcasing their traditions and culture is important because it not only gives a glimpse into their way of life, but it allows the Mi'Kmaq people to learn about and better understand other cultures as well.
“It's another thing for people to do during the Privateer weekend, but they get the opportunity to do some hands on stuff and to better understand First Nations people and vice versa,” says Boutilier. “Better relationships, I really think it helps with that.”
With the understanding that Canada is a multicultural place, Boutilier adds the variety of events will give everyone a chance to compare different cultures.
“We have a newcomers group in Queens County,” she says. “We have people who come from other places, and they might look at something that we're showing them that might be similar to something they've done in their countries. It's all a learning process."
Boutilier says it is important to keep Kapabskitk going because it is the only First Nations cultural day in this end of the province. Other cultural events like Pow Wows are in areas beyond Gold River, like Halifax, Cape Breton, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick.
“After this year we will make it every other year, so the next one will be 2013. We're doing that to keep it fresh, and also so we don't burn out our volunteers,” says Boutilier. “It will always be here at the Queens County Museum, so that next year when we don't have it, it doesn't mean we won't have anything. We'll probably do something on June 21, Aboriginal Day, for school kids.”
Despite some changes coming next year, Boutilier says this year is a good opportunity for all cultures and ages to learn something new and have a good time.
“Between the entertainment and the workshops, there will be something for everybody,” says Boutilier. “And to try the different teas and food, it will just be a day of fun for everyone.”