Giving thanks for the opportunity to host two dear friends from Whycocomagh, Cape Breton, who came to visit and bring in the new year with us. One of the highlights (besides making dream catchers with the community and listening to melodious Mi’kmaq language floating through the house) was taking Judy and Joe to visit the Carib Stone in Mt. Rich. In the presence of these ancient stones I am mixed with awe and humility. However I also leave this site deeply disturbed by the neglect. The ravine where these ancient stones sit is littered with plastic chubby bottles, old tossed clothing, a moist smell of urine. There is a small concrete building built over the ravine for people to visit, pay homage, or simply witness the great art of First Nation people, however this building too has been vandalized with garbage and graffiti (not of the creative kind) and slowly cracking apart.
Joe and Judy, Mi’kmaq Elders were not startled as they too have experienced much of the same neglect and ignorance around their own history and culture. They were grateful that graffiti had not moved down and onto the rocks which Judy says has happened to many of their own sacred sites.
Who is to blame for the neglect, desecration and forgetfulness of First Nation people?
It is difficult to blame the youth of Mt. Rich even though it is their marks left on the building. If the youth and kids are not taught from an early age the history of the First People, taught in a way that honours the sacredness of ancient people, culture, history then why would they take the time to honour and respect such a site.
I too grew up ignorant of Canada’s First People. I grew up playing cowboys and Indians, always the cowboy never the Indian. It wasn’t until years later I became aware of the history of oppression; history of slavery, colonialism, imperialism; a history and present day reality that continues to rob, destroy, confuse, ignore and oppress indigenous people, cultures worldwide.
History is a breathing living reality that lives within all of us. By knowing history we may begin to teach our youth and children why our ancestral people must be honoured, cherished, respected and held in great reverie; by doing so perhaps we too may begin to understand, honour, respect the sacredness within ourselves and the people around us.