“Wel’tasualtulk’tinej” (Let’s be happy to see each other)
In the fall of 2011, Chief Norman Bernard along with Management of the Wagmatcook Culture & Heritage Centre strategized on ways to bring together the very first Unama’ki Elders Mawiomi. The target goal was to bring Elders together in one location for one day to celebrate their important place in our communities. So, with the support of the Wagmatcook Chief & Council and the Wagmatcook Elders Council acting as the official hosts for the event, the planning stages for the 2012 Unama’ki Elder’s Mawiomi began its journey. It was scheduled to take place at the beautiful Wagmatcook Culture & Heritage Centre from August 14th from 3:00pm-9:00pm.
This event was the first of its kind dedicated to bringing together Mi’kmaw Elders from the five (5) Mi’kmaw communities of Cape Breton. The event brought together over two hundred and fifty (250) Elders and many enjoyed all of the planned activities including cultural events such as the traditional Mi’kmaw game of Waltes, traditional drumming, dancing and storytelling. They also were served a full dinner as well as plentiful healthy snacks and diabetic foods combined with an air-conditioned facility to allow them to enjoy themselves for the day.
One of the most popular events for the day was of course the free bingo with free prizes! The event organizers also organized outdoor tents and with the beautiful weather that graced our day we were very happy to say that we were able to utilize all of the space as planned. We did however have to make some quick changes with 75 seats allocated for the bingo tent as one of the activities as an overwhelming amount of interest pushed our seating capacity to over 150 people! Everyone had a great time and all the prizes were quickly given out to a very appreciative crowd!
Entertainment for the day also included musical performers such as Morning Star (Richard & Pikun Poulette, Eskasoni), Steve Martin & Calvin Poulette, Ricky Gould & Isabel Martin (traditional dancers of the Kojua’) and all from We’koqma’q as well as the Denny Family Traditional Dancers of Eskasoni. Fiddle tunes were provided by an appreciative crowd by Moonie Francis and of course our local Wagmatcook performers on the host drum “Indian Bay Drummers” and Pauline Isadore with the opening song and Elder Martha Isadore with the opening prayer.
Many commented on how much they enjoyed the day, coming together with friends and family that they haven’t seen in months or even years. Elders travelled to Wagmatcook through Coach busses that were part of the planning for the event so that they could travel together and have time to share stories and memories of years and events gone by.
Registration fees were covered by each of the Mi’kmaw communities and covered all of the expenses for the day including travel, meals, entertainment, venue rental, etc and by all accounts it was a very successful event, with another one planned for the Summer of 2013. We’d like to send a special thank you to all of the Elders, sponsors, volunteers, band officials and Chiefs that supported the initiative and we look forward to working with you again this summer!