In April of 2012 Unama’ki College instituted the Elders in Residence Program. This role is now the Kisiku on Campus. Kisiku is a Mi’kmaq word which translates to elder. These respected individuals will strive to:
Shirley Christmas is a Mi’kmaw Elder from the community of Membertou. Shirley joined Unama’ki College in 2022 as our Kisiku on campus. Shirley is currently studying at Cape Breton University and taking courses in creative writing.
Shirley is a poet and playwright. Her writings, spiritual in nature, focus on our relationship with Mother Earth, the environmental problems caused by our actions or inactions, and the importance of treating the planet with respect.
Shirley has been very active in the CBU community through research and has shared many teachings, songs and stories with both students, faculty and staff.
Lawrence Wells is a Mi’kmaw Elder from the community of Membertou. He joined Unama’ki College as one of our Elders in Residence (Kisiku on Campus) in 2015, and is an exemplar of the qualities of humility, respect, and tolerance that identify the Mi’kmaw Elder. Lawrence has shared his extensive knowledge of Indigenous culture and traditions for over 25 years and is known as the `Keeper of the Children, Keeper of the Fire, and Keeper of Lodges’. He has also been an addictions counsellor and worked with the Native Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counseling Association in Eskasoni.
Lawrence leads by example, and is always ready to participate in activities with children and youth incorporating sacred teachings into everyday life. He is a noted wood and stone carver and has crafted pipes for ceremony and prayer. Lawrence is best known for his positive attitude, generosity with his time, knowledge of the Seven Sacred Teachings and ways we can heal ourselves, and affinity for nature. He does not believe in barriers and is available to students for support as needed.