The Role of Mi’kmaw Art and Lifelong Learning in Sustaining Mi’kmaq Culture

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Meuse, Holly
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Mount Saint Vincent University
I remember living in a house with no running water, no electricity and only a wood stove in the kitchen. In late summer, just before I started school, we moved into a new home. In the new home, my father provided for his family by relying on his artist talents. In this thesis, I discuss how artistic talents are innate for the Mi’kmaq but were suppressed or lost due to the injustices placed upon our people through the ethnocentric lens of the newcomer’s government. However, these artist talents are being regained. My study demonstrates how the artistic knowledge and today’s art reflect our ancestors, current issues, and self reflection from a Mi’kmaw perspective. Coming from an arts-based approach with a critical theoretical perspective, I explain how art is used as a strength for our people. It is an aspect of maintaining our culture. It has provided a livelihood since time immemorial, and it provides an underlying self therapy towards addressing the injustices that had and continues to be placed upon our people. I argue that Mi’kmaq arts-based perspectives are needed in the lifelong learning for connecting our cultural past to enrich our present and future. I used qualitative methods, including one -to-one interviews, and a questionnaire. Twenty-seven Mi’kmaw participants from all thirteen Mi’kmaw communities in Nova Scotia were involved in my study. I audio and video recorded some of my interviews with verbal and signed consent from my participants. The video compilation is part of my thesis and can be found at Mount Saint Vincent University Library, at Cape Breton University Unama’ki College, and in all of the thirteen Mi’kmaw communities in Nova Scotia.
Mi’kmaq , Mi’kmaq art , Arts-based research , Nova Scotia , Mi’kmaw culture