Cape Breton University is remembering and honouring of one of our former colleagues and Mi’kmaw Elder, Murdena Marshall. Murdena began her career at Cape Breton University in 1989 as the first full-time faculty member of the Mi’kmaq College Institute (now Unama’ki College). During her time with us she saw Indigenous student enrolment grow from just a few students to over 200, when she retired in the late 1990’s. As well, during her time here, Murdena, along with her husband, Albert, and Dr. Cheryl Bartlett, were the creators of the Integrative Science Program at CBU and the “Two-Eye Seeing” concept, that looked at science, while incorporating both Indigenous knowledge and understanding, in addition to Western science.
Murdena was a graduate of Harvard University, where she received her Master of Education Degree. In 2009, Murdena was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of letters honoris causa from CBU for her efforts in promoting Mi’kmaw culture, language, reconciliation and her work in growing the awareness of Mi’kmaw Studies.
If you talked to anyone who worked with Murdena, they would tell you that she was bigger than life. She was a trail-blazer in many aspects; she was an advocate for many things related to science and the health professions, broader access to education, and equality for all.
Murdena’s husband, Albert, is still very active with CBU, sitting on the Unama’ki College Advisory Group.