The magic behind it all is the people says chief

Posted on September 16, 2007
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Chief Noah Augustine                                                                                                                                                                                      Chief Noah Augustine   (Nelson Cloud photo)                                                                                                                                                                          

             A major key to the success of Metepenagiag Heritage Park Inc. (MHPI) is its independence from chief and council says Metepenagiag Chief, Noah Augustine. MHPI was created by an Order of Chief and Council and is mandated to preserve, protect and present the rich Mi’kmaq history and heritage at Metepenagiag.  It operates at arms length from the everyday operations and program service delivery of Metepenagiag Mi’kmaq First Nation.  One member of the Chief and Council serves on the Board of directors acting as a liaison.

            “The park is also a prime example of what can happen with partnerships,” he says. “It’s a crucial step to rejuvenate pride and confidence in the community. I’m really looking forward to see what spin-off opportunities will develop.

            “I’m so fortunate to be chief just now after all the work of all the chiefs and so many people got us here. The magic behind it all is in the people.

            “It’s very personal for me because Joe Augustine was my grandfather. When we made the movie, “The Village of 30 Centuries. Grandfather baked his last loaf of bread and played the violin for the last time. I was standing behind the camera with Conrad Beaubien, the producer, when Grandfather gazed over the Oxbow National Historic Site for the last time. Every time I see it, I wonder what was in his mind.

            “When he was dying, he asked me to put the movie in again. ‘Lot of people going to see that, aren’t they?’ he asked.”

            “Now here we are, so deeply in debt to him. His memory and his impact will live on.”

              “I’m so very pleased with how Metepenagiag Heritage Park Inc. has handled the complex planning of the park,” he says. “They were very sensitive to community concerns about the design and treatment of an exhibition that deals with a burial site. It is very important that people know we are not digging up burial mounds, that visitors to the park do not have access to the Augustine Mound because it is a sacred site to be protected, and we are not promoting development on a burial site.

            “Yes, Grandfather did explore at the mound. That’s how we learned it was a burial mound. There was archaeological exploration in partnership with the province of New Brunswick during the 70s and 80s that scientifically proved that. That was 35 years ago. Today, community archaeology is viewed differently and Metepenagiag is fortunate to have an organization mandated to preserve and protect these types of valuable cultural resources.

            “”We also have to realize that, if Grandfather hadn’t done what he did, that whole area would have been bulldozed. I believe it all happened for a reason.

             “People should understand, too, that what we learned has led to a revitalization of our culture.

            “When I was a kid, we were taught we were savages who had been a hindrance to the development of the country. I heard the jokes. I was taught to be ashamed of myself. That doesn’t lead to the confidence people need to make progress.

            “We have a long history here, good and bad. Metepenagiag Heritage Park will help everyone see the bigger picture. I’m really looking forward to the reaction of our people. I’m looking forward to the transformation I expect to see.

            “To see our community members smile is always a beautiful thing.”

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