“I thought he’d struck gold!” – Madeline Augustine

Posted on September 17, 2007
Filed Under Metepenagiag | Leave a Comment

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                                                                                                                                                                                                         Madeline Augustine and her father, Joe Mike Augustine

         

            Madeleine Augustine, daughter of Joe (Joe Mike) Augustine) remembers the day he brought home samples from what is now the Augustine Mound National Historic Site.

            “He had known about the mound for years,” says Madeleine. “He thought it was something, perhaps a ceremonial location of some kind.”

            “He was always reading,” says Madeleine. “One day, in about 1972, he came across an article with a picture that looked like the mound. The article said it was a burial mound.

            “He took his knapsack and his shovel and went across the river. He came back, spread newspapers on the table, spilled out his sack of dirt and began to pick apart what he had dug.

            “Things began to appear — arrow heads, spear points, birch bark wrapping, leather cords, necklaces, rings.”

            When she saw copper beads, Madeleine thought he had struck gold. She laughs warmly saying “In a way, I guess he had!”

            Now, 35 years later, the Mi’kmaq of Metepenagiag feel sure the spirit of Joe Mike was present at the opening of the ultra-modern tribute to what they call his re-discovery of their ancient, sacred, ancestral burial site.

            After years of archaeological research, a temporary museum Madeleine set up in a portable classroom, planning , lobbying and constant consultation by and with band councils, elders and members, Joe Mike’s dream is ready to welcome the public.

            Madeleine Augustine is President and Chair of the Board of Metepenagiag Heritage Park Inc.

            The MHP board, chosen by chief and council and a community steering committee, includes a youth member, currently Marie Levi; an elder, Wilfred Ward; a representative of the consultative and interpretive committee, Madeleine Augustine; band councilor, Patrick Ward; City of Miramichi, Rupert Bernard; the community at large, Dr. Chris Turnbull.

            Four funding agencies involved in the project are represented: Indian & Northern Affairs Canada, Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Canadian Heritage, and Province of New Brunswick Regional Development Corporation.

            There is one Mi’kmaq legal advisor and a representative of the Mi’kmaq and Maliseet Institute at the University of New Brunswick.

            Three principles, set by the community, guide the board. They are: Preserve, Protect and Present. The community’s deep respect for the sacred nature of the burial mound dictates that no visitors will ever be allowed there. The mound is represented in a replica display in the MHP building.

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