Saturday, June 26, 2010

Membertou 400 & Why This Makes Me Sad

So, I'm taking my son today to a celebration of First Nation culture. There is a huge gathering of First Nations (Canada's term for Native peoples) in one of the city's parks. A brief history of why there is a celebration: 400 years ago when European settlers were discovering the New World, they were having some trouble staying alive. The 1st winter spent here was brutal, but with help from the local Native tribe, the Mi' kmaq (meeg'mah), they did better the following year. There was peaceful communications between the Natives & the Europeans, which was rare because as the Europeans moved on throughout the New World, they didn't have good relations with other Natives (which happens when you try to tell them that they are savages, heathens & you steal their land). So, 400 years ago, Chief Membertou, a tribal Shaman, renounced his beliefs, took a French name & was baptized by the Catholic Church. This is a celebration of that decision he made. Yes, I do understand he did it for peaceful relations with the French (as they were the "1st" settlers to the New World) but I can't get my arm around the fact that he gave up his beliefs in the Great Mother, the animal spirits, they became myths to his people.

So, you're probably wondering why a Pagan, such as myself is going to this? Since I am taking my son, he has not really been exposed to this culture, like I was. I grew up in a rural town with a reservation, went to school with them. Here in Halifax, there's not that many First Nation peoples, ok, not close to where I live, just a cultural centre where we get ice cream cones in the summer. There will be a Pow Wow, drum making, dancing, etc. So, I hope things go good, in spite of it being a celebration of a fear tactic 400 years ago.


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