Mercedes Peters: “We as Mi’kmaq have rights that predate the existence of Canada. And as settlers began to move into our territory centuries ago, we made treaties with them—not to create rights, but to remind settlers that we had them, to protect our rights. We are taught as Mi’kmaq, not only to be memory-holders for ourselves, but to remind Canadians who live in Mi’kma’ki of the agreements that govern our territory, and the responsibilities they have.”
We know the friendship treaties between the Mi’kmaq and the Crown are important, but if you’re at all like me that’s probably where your knowledge ends. Now there is an excellent book that shows how treaty relationships have remained a vital part of the collective memory of the Mi’kmaq through time, and how and why the Mi’kmaw interpretation has slowly gained traction. That didn’t just happen, it took a lot of skillful and fearless effort.