Last month, as part of the National Aboriginal Business Educators meeting at Cape Breton University, we travelled to Eskasoni for a cultural tour. I was very excited to hop into the van with my new colleagues and friends. You see, though I’ve been to Eskasoni many times, until then, I’d never had the opportunity to participate in the walking tour of Goat Island.
When we arrived at Eskasoni Cultural Journeys, we were greeted by several Mi’kmaw Elders in regalia. After a few introductions, we were treated to a veritable feast of fish cakes, baked beans, and four cent bread! It was delicious and provided more than enough energy for the 2.4km walk we were about to embark on.
The well-groomed, mostly flat trail leads you through several “interpretive nodes.” At one we interacted with an Elder who described traditional hunting and fishing practices, cooking and preserving methods, and shelter construction. At another, we tested our basket weaving skills by making a bookmark (if this research thing doesn’t work out, I may have a career as a craftsperson!). We learned about smudging practices and dusted off our dancing shoes to learn how to Ko’jua dance (a traditional Mi’kmaw dance sometimes referred to as a “dance of vigour”). At other nodes, we learned about traditional medicines and sweatlodges.
Once the loop was completed, we sat with an Elder to play the Mi’kmaw dice game Waltes. It has one of the most complicated counting systems that I’ve ever seen. We laughed lots while trying to comprehend the logic of the game.
Like everyone on our tour, I really enjoyed my visit to Eskasoni Cultural Journeys and can’t wait to return. If you’re in the area, consider visiting Goat Island to learn about the culture and traditions of the Mi’kmaq!