Special ceremony celebrated the unveiling of two unique Mi'kmaq outfits
In a momentous occasion, the Canadian Museum of History and Metepenagiag Heritage Park jointly hosted a ceremony to celebrate the first display of two significant Mi'kmaq outfits.
The original outfit, created in the early 1840s by three unnamed Mi'kmaq women, most likely from Esgenoôpetitj First Nation, is a historical treasure of Canadian Indigenous artistry. Captain Henry Dunn O'Halloran of the British Army's 69th Regiment of Foot was the original owner of this rare outfit. This masterpiece has been housed at the Canadian Museum of History and has now been brought into the spotlight.
The second outfit, an exact replica of the 1840s original, was crafted in 2020 by a group of Mi'kmaq artists from Metepenagiag Heritage Park in Red Bank, New Brunswick. Despite pandemic constraints, Sgoagani Mye Wecenisqon from Esgenoôpetitj First Nation, Oakley Wysote Gray from Listuguj Mi'gmaq First Nation, and Ingrid Brooks from Indian Island First Nation, continued their work on this meticulous project. Their dedication ensures that the artistry of the Mi'kmaq people remains both vibrant and recognized.
Caroline Dromaguet, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Museum of History, said, "The Museum is honoured to have been involved in this meaningful project with Metepenagiag Heritage Park. Working closely with Indigenous communities from around the country is crucial for our relationships with communities and to our everyday work at the Museum."
The occasion is not just a display of artistic skill, but also serves as a homage to the Mi'kmaq artists, both past and present, who are an integral part of this story. Patricia Dunnet, General Manager at Metepenagjag Heritage Park, remarked, "By showcasing these coats, we aim to honour our ancestors for their incredible work and pay tribute to the craftsmanship that has been passed down through generations."
In a bid to further this collaboration, artists involved in the project will undergo professional and technical training in museum practices as part of the Museum of History's Indigenous Internship Program. The replica will subsequently be returned to New Brunswick, where it will be on display at the Metepenagiag Heritage Park.
Photo caption: From left to right: Liam Watson of Metepenagiag Mi’kmaq Nation; Ingrid Brooks, Artist; Oakley Rain Wysote Gray, Artist; Sgoagani Mye Wecenisqon, Artist; Joseph Sylliboy of Metepenagiag Mi’kmaq Nation; Rebecca Dunnett, Research and Development Assistant at Metepenagiag Heritage Park; Karen Narvey, Executive Director of the Indigenous Tourism Association of New Brunswick; Salina Kemp, Curator of Eastern Ethnology at the Canadian Museum of History; Elder Claudette Commanda of Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg; and Caroline Dromaguet, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Museum of History and the Canadian War Museum. The group stands together at the special ceremony, marking a significant moment in the recognition and celebration of Mi'kmaq artistry, culture, and history.
Photo credit: Courtesy of the Canadian Museum of History.