Nova Scotia

Marie Battiste, Mi'kmaw pioneer in Indigenous education, named to Order of Canada

A pioneer in Indigenous education from Nova Scotia's Potlotek First Nation has been named an honorary Officer of the Order of Canada. 

'I was shocked when I found out because I didn't think I qualified,' says Battiste

Marie Battiste is being recognized for her contributions to the field of Indigenous education and her commitment  to traditional languages and knowledge. (Facebook)

A pioneer in Indigenous education from Nova Scotia's Potlotek First Nation has been named an honorary Officer of the Order of Canada.

Marie Battiste is being recognized for her contributions to the field of Indigenous education and her commitment  to traditional languages and knowledge. Battiste spent much of her career in Canada — she is now a professor at the University of Saskatchewan — but grew up in Houlton, Maine. She holds a master's degree from Harvard and a PhD from Stanford University.

"I was shocked when I found out because I didn't think I qualified as a citizen of the United States," Battiste told CBC News. 

"That's why I get the 'honorary' distinction, and it is an honour to have that."

Battiste said her fascination with Indigenous curriculum began when she started working with Mi'kmaq students in Cape Breton, something she did for 25 years. She moved to Saskatchewan in 1993, but still has family in Cape Breton.

1 of 83 appointments

Battiste said young Indigenous people need a strong inner foundation to help themselves and their communities.

"When you know your own histories and understand your own language, you are not just an ambassador, but you can learn to help your people through self-determination and reconciliation," she said.

Battiste is one of 83 appointments to the Order of Canada announced Thursday by Governor General Julie Payette. 

With files from Paul Palmeter