Cape Breton University is honoured and delighted to recognize the compassion and commitment of Mary Rebecca “Becky” Julian to the preservation and growth of Mi’kmaw culture throughout Atlantic Canada.
Born in Old Town on Indian Brook Reserve, Mary Rebecca Julian, known to most as “Becky,” has been a driving force in the education field for more than 30 years for the Sipekne’katik First Nation and surrounding communities.
Becky’s life is one of great hardships, determination and success. She is a survivor of Indian Residential schools, and her experiences there have compelled her to work to both protect and preserve her knowledge of Mi’kmaw language and culture. As a young girl, Becky was an avid learner and spent considerable time with community Elders learning uses of traditional materials to create decorative baskets, quillwork, beading and crepe paper flowers. At the age of 15, Becky was attending school and working in the lobster industry as a seasonal worker.
In 1958 Becky met her husband, Stephen Julian, who has been by her side for nearly 60 years. Together they have eight children: Douglas, Walter, Wanda, Sam, Patsy, Anita, Keith and Raymond. She also has many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
After her youngest son entered school, Becky returned to the workforce. She completed courses where she learned to make duffle coats, wooden flowers, quillwork and beading. As a sign of her commitment to her culture, she now teaches these skills to others, passing on the traditions of her people.
Becky became a certified linguist in 1984 and began teaching the Mi’kmaw language in schools throughout Nova Scotia. After teaching for several years at Shubenacadie Elementary School, Becky returned to Indian Brook to teach students from grade primary to twelve at L’nu Sipuk Kina’moukoum.
Becky has co-authored numerous Mi’kmaw language resources including L’nuey Klusuaqn Wi’katin Mi’kmaw workbook along with basket making in Siperkne’katik and most recently “Becky’s Wooden Roses.”
In 2013, Becky was awarded the Grand Chief Donald Marshall Senior Memorial Elder Award. This award is presented to individuals who work to keep the Mi’kmaw culture alive and thriving. Becky continues to encourage young people to believe in themselves and to never give up on their dreams.
Today, Becky continues in her commitment to both language and culture as an Elder and much-respected teacher in her community.