[Singing in Mi’kmaw]
Ta'n teluisit Niskam Ewujit Niskam aq Wejiwli Niskam.
On the east coast of Cape Breton is a growing community of four hundred Mi’kmaw people, a town called Chapel Island or Potlotek. This town has been occupied since the seventeen-hundreds by the Mi'kmaw people and also a place where the patron Saint Anne is worshiped each year. The Chapel Island mission brings together about two thousand people or more each year to celebrate the feast of Saint Anne. Also it brings local Mi'kmaw people to the island, three or two weeks before the mission. The island has about two hundred little cabins around the shore line and also a canteen and a take-out food service.
Mi'kmaw children are also baptised on the island.
[".. Should be baptised in the name of the church which we have all professed with you ...
Jason, I baptise you in the name of the father, the son, and the Holy Spirit."]
I see Chapel Island as not the every day mainstream conception of what Chapel Island means to some. To me, coming to Chapel Island isn't just primarily a religious activity. For me, Chapel Island is coming back and walking the paths, feeling the air, walking the earth, sensing the visions of our ancestors that have been coming here for the past two hundred and forty seven years. When I come to Chapel Island I not only feel good about myself, but I also feel good about being Mi’kmaw. Because here on Chapel Island all of what is distinctively ours is displayed, namely; sharing, co-operation, collective thought, forgiveness, love-thy-neighbour, joy, all of the things that makes a society and utopia of what Thomas Moore was looking for in his writings.
Chapel Island is for me a resurgence of culture, a revitalization of my visions and just being Mi'kmaq. Just being Mi'kmaq.
If I were a tourist coming in Chapel Island, in particular, the first thing that I would notice coming into a society such as this is not the material wealth that Chapel Island displays, what I would see on Chapel Island, if I was a tourist was the friendliness, the smiles, the openness and all of those good things that you only dream about. You never - we don't even do that at home. It's only on Chapel Island we do it.
Mi'kmaw grand captain Elic Denny expresses his feelings of the importance of Chapel Island:
Basically, there's one great thing that come to mind, as far as importance is concerned and that is; traditionally people have come here in the olden days to find out how other families were, now-a-days it's just to keep up with the tradition. That's [unclear] that people come from different reserves right across Eastern Canada where the Mi'kmaqs originally lived and also it's very important that families get together and find out how everyone is and basically the most important thing of all is that we are, once again getting together once a year with that extended family of the Mi'kmaqs which this year and every year for the last thirty years anyway, that I can remember, people have come from as far away as Florida, New York, Toronto, now Saskatoon, mostly British Columbia, and of course all of the reserves in Cape Breton and Nova Scotia unless the two feast days of Saint Anne coincide with those of Merigomish. But it's very important that people get together and find out how everyone is, in the olden days they used to determine a way of life of each community. Now-a-days it's just to determine how everyone is and it also gives young people and opportunity to find out who their relatives are and where they live.
["The lord be with you ..."
"And also with you."
"A reading from the holy gospel according to Luke...”]
On the last weekend of July, over two thousand Mi'kmaw people come to celebrate the feast of Saint Anne.
The mixture of joy, of love, of peace and the mixture of struggle and human difficulty. Because we have Christ we can overcome any difficulty. The Holy Spirit has given us, the Great Spirit comes to us, to help us in times of our weakness. We have to have the courage to ask for that help, we have to have the humility to say we are people who have need of a power greater than ourselves. We have to know that we can't do it alone.
[Singing in Mi'kmaw]