Legends of the Mi'kmaq

Mary Rose Julian with Legends producer Dick Miller

Mary Rose Julian with Legends producer Dick Miller


The rich oral tradition of the Mi'kmaq is highlighted in four fascinating stories - stories of power and magic that provide insight into the culture of this First Nation from Canada's east coast. CBC Radio's Legends Project compiles traditional oral stories, legends and histories of Canada's Inuit and First Nations, gathered in communities across the country. To find out more, visit the Legends Project website.

mikmaq-girls.jpgFor 10 thousand years the Mi'kmaq lived off the bounty of the oceans and forests and rivers of Canada's the east coast  of Canada. They travelled throughout their land, Mi'kma'ki - by foot and by canoe. They formed a government. They were part of a confederacy with other nations in the region. They developed a writing system of pictographs. And when Europeans first arrived 5 centuries ago, they welcomed them.

After 500 years of contact, much of the Mi'kmaq culture and language has been lost.
But as with other First nations across Canada, there is a resurgence of interest in revitalizing the traditions. Particularly in Eskasoni on Cape Breton Island.  It is here, on the shores of the Bras d'Or lakes,  where you can hear the language spoken in the schools, in the grocery store... and you can hear the stories that have been passed down from generation to generation.  Stories about creation, stories that teach morality, and stories, many stories about Kluscap.

The four bilingual legends included here are dramatizations selected from the many traditional Mi'kmaq stories that would have been shared during family gatherings and activities. They were recorded entirely in the Cape Breton community of Eskasoni during June 2006, but all are based on traditional Mi'kmaq cultural beliefs that have evolved over thousands of years.

All songs, chants, drums, flute and rattle by Joel Denny, Kathy Denny and Beverly Jeddore.

Photograph: Alley Herney & Desiree Sylliboy

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