KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – The Mi’kmaw defenders of the Shubenacadie River often mention treaties and the notion of stewardship to explain what their actions are about. This weekend’s Weekend Video, Seeking Netukulimk, by Martha Stiegman and Kerry Prosper, goes a long way in explaining what that means.
We are introduced to Kerry Prosper, a Mi’kmaq elder, who teaches his grandchildren how to fish for eels, and who offers some history lessons on the long (and ongoing) battle to get treaty rights to fish recognized and accepted in Nova Scotia, and in Canada for that matter.
In particular the documentary delves into the crucial contributions of Donald Marshall, the Cape Breton Mi’kmaq who defended his treaty right to fish all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Woven into Prosper’s lessons is the notion of Netukulimk, the idea of stewardship, that living off the land brings with it the obligation to look after that land for future generations.
It takes time to understand the concept of Netukulimk. I’ve been lucky enough to get an introduction, by working with Kerry Prosper on this film. I’ve learned that those of us in the non-native community have a thing or two to learn from our Mi’kmaq brothers and sisters about what it means to live here, and about the traditional laws that have long been anchored in these lands and waters.
We have a responsibility to act as allies, to learn about the spirit and intent of the original Peace and Friendship Treaties, and the way of life anchored in Netukulimk they were meant to protect. And we have to find ways to become responsible treaty partners, because our governments certainly aren’t.
Seeking Netukumlimk is an excellent and beautiful documentary that will move you closer to that goal.