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Image by Ivan Bandura

mi'kmak'i and the mi'kmaw people

The Tides of Tomorrow, 2024 Sustainable Ocean Conference takes place on Kjipuktuk, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi'kmaq — the past, present, and future caretakers of these lands and waters.  

Please continue reading to learn a brief history of the Mi'kmaw People in Mi'kma'ki, learn more through our links, and see how this relates to our work.

land acknowledgement

The Sustainable Ocean Conference is hosted in Kjipuktuk (Great Harbour - Halifax), Mi'kma'ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi'kmaw People.


We choose to conduct land acknowledgements as a part of the reconciliation process. We think it necessary to recognize that the area we now commonly refer to as the Halifax Regional Municipality exists due to the removal, displacement and harm of local Indigenous Peoples. This acknowledgement cannot undo the harm that has historically been done for generations, nor can it return the land to its original caretakers. Although symbolic, we deem it necessary. The truth can be uncomfortable but is important to face and acknowledge.

 As settlers on this land, we must actively work to understand the history of the land we live on - the good, the bad, and the uncomfortable. It is up to each of us as individuals to do real, hard and actionable work required in reconciliation. 

We encourage you to take the time to further educate yourselves in your own time.


Mi’kmaq have lived in a reciprocal relationship with the lands, waters, and wildlife of Mi’kma’ki since time immemorial. They have cared for Mi’kma’ki since long before French explorers arrived and set up a trading post at Port Royal in 1605, and long before Italian navigators arrived on the shores of Unama’ki (Cape Breton) in 1497, mistaking it for Asia.  


The “Treaties of Peace and Friendship”, also known as the Peace and Friendship Treaties, were signed in 1725-1779 between the British Crown and Wabanaki Nations: Mi’kmaq, Wəlastəkwiyik/ Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet  ), Pαnawάhpskewi (Penobscot), and Peskotomuhkati (Passamaquoddy) Peoples. Notably, these treaties did not deal with the surrender of lands and resources, instead recognizing Wabanaki title and establishing rules for what was to be an ongoing and peaceful nation-to-nation relationship.  


Since European settlers and governments in Canada have failed to honour and implement the true nature of these agreements, Indigenous peoples have suffered deep injustices, and have continuously worked peacefully to have the sacredness of the treaties recognized. Amidst human rights violations and breaches of the Peace and Friendship Treaties, the Mi’kmaq Nation (as well as other Wabanaki Nations) continue to fight for rights recognition.  


Proclamation by P. T. Hopson, former Governor of Nova Scotia or Acadia.


This document announced the Peace and Friendship Treaty signed in 1752 by himself as a representative of the King of England, and Jean Baptiste Cope, the Chief Sachem of the Mi'kmaq of ‘Chubenacadie’ (Sipekne'katik). 


This is one of many Peace and Friendship Treaties signed in the 1700s, none of which discussed the surrender of land. 



Treaties are a meaningful part of the past, present and future between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, representing nation-to-nation agreements to share resources, power, waters, and lands.  


Treaties are sacred, legally binding agreements, and their spirit and intent must be upheld by all descendants of those who signed them. As agreements between two or more parties - the British Crown (Canada) and Indigenous Nations - Indigenous and non-Indigenous people living in Mi’kma’ki and other Wabanaki lands are all treaty people.


Moving forward, we must all commit to reading and honouring the spirit and intent of the Peace and Friendship Treaties.  As Canadians, we must read and work toward upholding Section 35 of the 1982 Canadian Constitution and Canada’s United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act. Court rulings such as The Marshall Decisions (1999) are necessary for marine managers to know, to help shape the future of equitable ocean governance.

We must work diligently toward the 94 Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action, and the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls (MMIWG) 231 Calls for Justice. These Calls to Action were generated by survivors of residential schools and families of missing and murdered women, girls, and Two-Spirit people.  This deep trauma was caused by colonization, and we must not be complicit in its continuous violence and oppression.  


Descendants of colonizers must understand and acknowledge the privilege and power they have long held, and continue to benefit from the goodwill of the Mi’kmaw People upholding their end of the Peace and Friendship Treaties. Colonizers and descendants have taken lives, land, resources, rights, decision-making, and power from Wabanaki people. We all have a responsibility to make space for Wabanaki voices in decision-making spaces, and for supporting capacity sharing. We all have a role to play in making space for equity.


As Treaty people, non-Indigenous people in Canada must support and amplify the voices of Indigenous peoples as they continue to forge forward in the pursuit of self-determination, self-government, and full rights recognition. Know better, do better, and spread the word.

Each of the seven districts in Mi'kma'ki are named after the distinct geographical characteristics of the area:

  • Kespek - Last Land

  • Siknikt - Drainage Area

  • Epekwitk aq Piktuk - Lying in the Water and The Explosive Place

  • Unama'kik aq Ktaqmkuk - Foggy Lands and Land Across the Water

  • Eskikewa'kik - Skin-dresser's Territory

  • Sipekne'katik - Wild Potato Area

  • Kespukwitk - Last Flow

OUr work in mi'kma'ki


At the Sustainable Ocean Conference and in our daily work, we respect and look to uplift the work and voices of Mi’kmaq researchers, practitioners, and community members. We look to do this within our conference programming and will continue to create and hold space for conversations regarding truth and reconciliation as we enter the field of marine management. As marine managers, we have a responsibility to make space for Indigenous voices in discussions, policies and solutions. Who better to lead efforts to create a more equitable and just marine future, than Wabanaki people who have been caring for these very waters for generations?


We recognize that there are many ways of knowing that traditionally have not been valued. It is our aim to learn from, and celebrate, a diversity of experiences and perspectives to ensure an inclusive, collaborative, and welcoming space at the conference and beyond.  



  • "Women of This Land" featuring Jennie Williams, Darlene Bernard, Shalan Joudry and Dr. Imelda Perley Opolahsomuwehs

A 4-part documentary series about Indigenous women in Atlantic Canada, and how they connect to land and culture.

A documentary series of 11 First Peoples, cultures and languages, whose stories remain to be told.​

A documentary presentation on identity and efforts to reclaim the original Indigenous name of the Wolastoq (Saint John) River.



​A guide made to provide an overview of the history, culture and contemporary Mi'kmaq, along with a variety of resources to help you explore these topics in more detail.

Publications, updates, and resources from the Confederacy of Mainland Mi'kmaq.​

A public document detailing common terminology.​

An online project that creates illustrations, posters, videos and comic books on health and social issues for (Indigenous) youth.​



A resource guide that details the history of the Mi'kmaq People in Nova Scotia through a paper trail. Features archival holdings, a virtual exibit, and an explanation of how to pronounce Mi'kmaq, as well as the difference between 'Mi'kmaq' and 'Mi'kmaw'

A database of over 700 portraits that provides a glimpse into the history of the Mi'kmaq of Atlantic Canada.​

A virtual globe that is an ongoing effort to represent the different Indigenous territories, languages and treaties across the globe.​

educational RESOURCES 


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