A Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq elder will lead a ceremony to honour a white moose that was killed last week.
Bob Gloade, chief of Millbrook First Nation, said the hunters who killed the animal in Cape Breton have turned over the hide. It will be honoured in a four-day ceremony starting next Thursday.
“They’re going to set an altar where the hide will be. There will be offerings and there will be prayers,” he said. “It’s a way of releasing the spirit of the animal back to its rightful place.”
The albino animal is sacred in Mi'kmaq culture and the widespread images of its carcass last week upset many people. The hunters did not know about the animal's significance.
Emmett Peters, a Mi’kmaq elder, will lead the ceremony. He holds a regular sweat lodge ceremony in Dartmouth and the ritual will start there.
The hunters have been invited and Peters is hopeful they will come. “If anything bad is coming from this, we want to stop it,” he said.
Protection sought for white moose
Gloade said three white moose have been seen in Nova Scotia recently. One became sick and was put down by the Department of Natural Resources and the second was killed by the hunters. The third remains in the woods.
He said he’s spoken with DNR about how to protect it. One option would be to try and get legislation to protect albino moose. It could also be relocated to a provincial park, where it would not encounter hunters.
'There was a lot of anger, frustration, confusion and bitterness for the lack of understanding of Mi'kmaq culture.' - Chief Bob Gloade
Gloade added that October is Mi’kmaq history month in Nova Scotia, and the incident illustrated the knowledge gap between Mi’kmaq and mainstream culture.
“There was a lot of anger, frustration, confusion and bitterness for the lack of understanding of Mi’kmaq culture,” he said. “How this was displayed was an insult to a lot of people.”
The rare animal is considered spiritual offering and a connection to the creator. Gloade called it a messenger animal that is not hunted.
He said the Cape Breton hunters likely did not know any of that. “If they understood, they might have had second thoughts about seeking out this animal and hunting it."