MAPS is working with Environment Canada, Fisheries & Oceans Canada, and Parks Canada infusing Aboriginal traditional knowledge (ATK) into Species at risk research and recovery strategies. Examples of this are the recent ATK studies relating to the American eel and Atlantic salmon (downloadable from the Resources section). MAPS is also involved in on-the-ground habitat rehabilitation initiatives.
Mi’kmaw Ecological Knowledge Study (MEKS): MAPS carries out Mi’kmaw Ecological Knowledge Studies as part of environmental impact statements/assessments of industrial, housing and infrastructure developments. E.g. proposed Black Point Quarry, Guysborough Co., NS”
For more details, click here., and also see our Resources section.
Cultural Resources Example: Petroglyphs
The Mi’kmaw petroglyphs Nova Scotia’s Kejimkujik and George lakes, one of Atlantic Canada’s most precious cultural resources, are slowly eroding. While the individual drawings and writings are well known, the spatial relation between the pictographs had not been documented. In 2008, the MAPS team undertook to digitize tracings of the petroglyphs and establishing the spatial arrangement within groups of drawings.
This will facilitate future research towards a contextual interpretation of the pictographs
Mi’kmaw Oral History Picture Project
In 2007/2008 the province-wide Mi’kmaq Oral History Picture Project intended to collect and archive photographs that demonstrate use and occupation by Mi’kmaw people of the land and resources within the province. Most of the photographic material was gained through interviews and discussions with community members throughout the province. The researchers visited participants in their homes, used portable scanners to replicate on-site photos they wanted to share, and record context information relating to the images such as who took the photograph, who was in the picture and where and when it was taken, as well any other additional information people wished to share was appreciated and recorded.
The locations of these snapshots of Mi’kmaw land use activities were then incorporated into the GIS data base and thereby mapped. The photos serve to tie a visual record to that use and, in a manner, illustrate the Traditional Use data collected earlier. A secondary goal of this project is to use the information for educational purposes relating to land use and activity. In this regard, we may create and/or publish educational materials of the visual images and pictures we have acquired throughout the project along with the stories that go with them to help tell the story of Mi’kmaq use and activity throughout Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw
Traditional Use Study (TUS)
Between 1997 and 2001 the MAPS team, under the auspices of the Treaty & Aboriginal Rights Research Centre in Indian Brook, conducted a province-wide Traditional Use Survey, an endeavour initiated jointly by the Union of Nova Scotia Indians and the Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq. Over 80 categories of land use activities and occupancy information have been identified as being carried out by Aboriginal people.
These categories include harvesting of both plant and animal life, from moose hunting, salmon fishing, clam digging, to gathering berries or sweet grass and cutting ash. They also encompass occupancy information such as travel routes, camp sites, and culturally important places such as ceremonial and burial sites. Nearly 1000 MMi’kmaw were interviewed and about 7000 mylar map overlays with land use information produced. This TUS research informs consultation or negotiations on rights with non-disputable ‘hard’ data. It can provide insight into the “Aboriginal Perspective” (R v. Marshall, logging), proves a “substantial connection” (R v. Delgamuukw) of current Mi’kmaq communities to their traditional lands, and documents activities & areas are of “central significance” (R v. Marshall, logging) to communities. The TUS also helps preserve Oral History and provide a valuable information bank on which to base more accurate and culturally appropriate educational materials.
The Importance of Good Research
In consultation, negotiation, arbitration, planning and management, everything comes down to research. If done properly, it will provide sound evidence and a basis for informed discussions and consultations. Good research makes good court/political decisions. Good research is also crucial in the contexts of impact assessment, resource management, community economic development, protection of cultural resources. Good research allows for the development of more truthful educational material on Aboriginal culture and First Nation & contact history. First Nations need to take control, link, share, and interpret research on issues and topics of their concern.
MEKS (Mi’kmaq Ecological Knowledge Study) as part of the environmental impact statement for the Black Point Quarry project (on Chedabucto Bay, ca. 10 km west of Canso), proposed by Erdene Resource Development Corp.