An interdisciplinary team of respected scholars came together to make this project successful, some hired on as consultants while others were representative of their partner organizations and offered their services “in-kind.”
Dr. Bernie Francis (Hon. Doctorate) was the linguistic expert consultant for the project. Dr. Francis, along with linguist Doug Smith, rewrote the Mi’kmaw orthography (spelling system) in the 1970s to better reflect the spoken language. This orthography has been adopted by the Mi’kmaq-Nova Scotia-Tripartite Forum as the official spelling system for Nova Scotia and used in this website and digital atlas. Dr. Francis spent hours with our youth researchers and Dr. Sable reviewing old dictionaries of place names compiled by early missionaries and historians, listening to interviews of Mi’kmaw Elders, and carefully transliterating and translating them into the names seen on the web site maps and digital atlas. He is the co-author with Dr. Sable of “The Language of this Land, Mi’kma’ki” (CBU Press 2012), and “Mi’kmaw Grammar” with Dr. John Hewson (CBU Press 2015)
Dr. Trudy Sable, Director of the Office of Aboriginal and Northern Research, Gorsebrook Research Institute, SMU, wrote the initial feasibility study for the development of the digital atlas and website and was the Principal Investigator on the two Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) grants that provided the majority of funding for the development of the web site and digital atlas, along with other supplemental grants, e.g., the Tripartite Forum Project Fund and student grants. She also was the project director and, with over twenty-five years of research and program development with and for the Mi’kmaw Nation, contributed her knowledge and resources to the development of the website and atlas, and as co-researcher on the Cultural Landscapes research with Roger Lewis. She also worked together with team members in training, specifically in conducting map-interviews and research skills, as well as supervising the interns and youth researchers. Her work illustrating how legends acted as oral maps is included in this web site. She and Bernie Francis also co-authored the book “The Language of this Land, Mi’kma’ki”, which was a finalist for the Atlantic Book Award, Best Scholarly Writing category.
Roger J. Lewis is the Curator of Ethnology with the Nova Scotia Museum. He received his B.A. (anthropology) from Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Nova Scotia and M.A. from Memorial University of Newfoundland specializing in pre-contact Mi’kmaw land and resource use. An archaeologist originally from the Indianbrook First Nations Community, he has comprehensive knowledge of Mi’kmaw archaeological sites, with extensive research on various eel weir architecture, function and distribution. His research has also focused on the forty four primary rivers in Nova Scotia that acted as travel routes and central focal points for Mi’kmaw settlement patterns throughout Nova Scotia to the present day. Because the Mi’kmaw language is descriptive in nature, Mr. Lewis has utilized Mi’kmaw place-names as a vital research aid in understanding significant activity sites or ‘critical land and resource use’ locations. Mr. Lewis is currently completing a Ph.D. in Anthropology at Dalhousie University. He recently co-authored a chapter with Dr. Sable entitled Mi’kma’ki Telo’ltipni’k L’nuk Mi’kma’kik – How the Mi’kmaq Live in Mi’kma’kik. He has been engaged in Mi’kmaw place names research and will continue to participate on the research team and as an adviser supporting the development of the web site. The P’jilasi Mi’kma’ki: Mi’kmaw Place Names Digital Atlas and Website will be a major contribution towards informing Mi’kmaw students and other Canadians about Mi’kma’ki through the concepts of place names and cultural landscape. He also works closely with Mi’kmaw communities to record, compile and map invaluable ethnographic information and cultural stories.
Tim Bernard is well known beyond his own community of the Millbrook First Nation as the Manager/Editor of the Mi’kmaq Maliseet Nations News and Eastern Woodland Print Communications. Tim has been the driving force behind the development and success of these important First Nation companies. He now brings his love of Mi’kmaw history and culture and his management expertise to the The Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq as the Director of History and Culture. As a member of the Millbrook Mi’kmaw Community, Tim was born and raised just outside Truro, NS. After attending the local school system from primary to grade 12, Tim knows first-hand how little Mi’kmaw history and culture is part of the school system. After graduating from high school and attending Saint Mary’s University for a short period, it was his judgment that the best place to learn Mi’kmaw history and culture was from within his own community. To meet these ends, he became Assistant Research Director from 1988-1994, where he gained extensive historical knowledge under the direction of Dr. Donald Julien. It was during this time that across Mi’kma’ki, new efforts were emerging to piece together a poorly documented past and to gain a true appreciation for the experiences that his ancestors that have ensured his survival today. The most significant career research for Tim are those efforts that allow for the next generation to know who they are. He thinks of his work as simply filling the gaps between the generations. The gaps were created for various reasons—residential school, lost teachers, disease and illness, economic hardship—and they are filled from various knowledges. In his own words, Tim says that he “puts things out there that our people can latch on to—whether they read it, write or live it to remind them that we are different and have a very special history. People wanted us to be somebody else, but we can only be who we are. We come from a different back ground, we come from a different culture.
Rob Ferguson served as a federal representative on the Culture and Heritage Working Committee of the Tripartite Forum from its inception in 1997 until his retirement from Parks Canada in 2011. During this time, he was chair of the Mi’kmaw Place Names sub-committee, and worked with his team to develop the proposal for the Pjila’si Mi’kmaki website project. Rob was an archaeologist with Parks Canada from 1976 to 2011. While his work covered broad aspects of Canadian heritage, he was involved in a number of First Nations sites, most notably the Eel Weir settlement and petroglyphs in Kejimkujik National Park/National Historic Site. He was active in developing national and regional training programmes in cultural resource management for Aboriginal partners. He was also involved in a major initiative by Parks Canada to expand the recognition of First Nations heritage within the National Historic Sites system, working with community partners in Newfoundland & Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. Notable achievements were the designations of the cultural landscape of Kejimkujik, the Bedford Barrens and the Wolastoq (Saint John River), as well as individuals Mattie Mitchell, Sylvester Joe and Gabe Acquin.
Jennifer Copage, Paul J. Prosper (front), Michael Weiler, Jim Michael (back left to right). MAPS represents the Union of Nova Scotia Indians (UNSI) and its staff contributed input and direction during the many project meetings concerning the development of the digital atlas and web site. Ms. Copage also secured a summer student grant that offered matching grants to fund a student for the summer of 2012, in this case, Matt Meuse-Dallien.
Mr. Jones was the geomatics consultant for the project until Spring, 2014. Mr. Jones became involved with mapping MI’kma’ki in the late 1990s when he assisted Dr. Sable in mapping the legends and the landscape research for Dr. Sable as part of her legends as maps research. Mr. Jones is responsible for the development of the maps and map layers on this web site, as well as overseeing the development of the digital atlas and its transferral to SMU. Mr. Jones also helped with training our interns in how to geo-reference place names, attended numerous meetings, and assisted on the Mi’kmaw Cultural Landscape research by generating maps with Roger Lewis and Trudy Sable.
Greg Baker, Research Instrument Technician, Maritime Provinces Spatial Analysis Research Centre, Department of Geography, Saint Mary’s University, was instrumental in transitioning the digital atlas to the Saint Mary’s University server. Greg continued to work on the site and help create a hard copy map of the Mi’kmaw place names throughout Nova Scotia.
Richard played a significant role in development and design of the website and connecting it to the digital atlas. He chose WordPress as the medium due to its administrator-friendliness.
Others who worked with us in supporting roles include:
Kenny Prosper, Eskissoqnik (Eskasoni) First Nation currently residing in Halifax, played a key role in helping set up and conduct interviews in Mi’kmaw. As a Mi’kmaw first language speaker, and a respected member of his community, Kenny’s knowledge of the language and place names allowed us to interview Elders and knowledge holders within the Mi’kmaw communities where the language is still spoken. Kenny’s knowledge also proved invaluable in listening to the place names for subtle differences in pronunciation that affected the translation of them to the Smith/Francis orthography. Kenny also assisted in background historical research for the project, including names of chiefs from the early colonial period.
Ruth Holmes Whitehead assisted in some of the editing and writing of the information sheets and the research of chiefs. Dr. Whitehead has over thirty-five years of ground-breaking research concerning Mi’kmaw history, and is the author of a number of books including, “The Old Man Told Us” and “Stories From the Six Worlds.” Peter Gravel, PRG Audiovisual, did the sound recordings of place names, as well as trained some of the youth researchers and Dr. Sable in video-editing while also doing some of the editing of the website himself. Thanks also to Youth Researcher Raymond Sewall for assisting in recording sound bites for the place names. Theresa Meuse and Bonnie Meuse assisted in setting up some interviews and accompanying our youth researchers to some of them. Vaughan Doucette of Eskissoqnik (Eskasoni) First Nation assisted our first year intern, Gregoire Meuse in conducting some interviews in Eskasoni and Waycobah.