Sir John A's beer rebrand a 'great show of respect,' says Mi'kmaw chief

The P.E.I. Brewing Company is rebranding its Gahan Sir John A’s Honey Wheat Ale in response to the ongoing issue of Canada’s first prime minister and his legacy’s effect on P.E.I.’s Indigenous community.

P.E.I. Brewing Company makes decision in effort to advance reconciliation

Kevin Murphy and brewmaster Trent Hayes with cans of Sir John A.'s Honey Wheat Ale. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

The P.E.I. Brewing Company is rebranding its Gahan Sir John A's Honey Wheat Ale in response to the ongoing issue of Canada's first prime minister and his legacy's effect on P.E.I.'s Indigenous community.

Kevin Murphy, CEO of the brewing company, said the decision came after a series of meetings with L'nuey, an initiative focused on protecting, preserving and implementing the constitutionally entrenched rights of the Mi'kmaq of Prince Edward Island.

"Doing the right thing was really what we wanted to do and so we had to figure out what that was," Murphy said. 

"We felt it was important that we reach out to the Indigenous community, their organizations, and have a dialogue with them, find out what they would like to see."

He said the brewery is looking forward to continuing to work with L'nuey and being a part of the solution toward reconciliation.

Controversial statue

There has been much controversy about how Macdonald's image is presented on P.E.I., the birthplace of Confederation. Last week, Charlottetown city council voted to change a popular bench statue in the downtown core to include an Indigenous figure, as well as words to reflect the Mi'kmaw perspective of Canadian history.

The P.E.I. Brewing Company said it will also be updating the historical information on plaques showcased in their taproom in an effort to help tell the "full story of the damaging policies put in place" by Macdonald. 

Junior Gould, chief of the Abegweit First Nation, says the rebranding is an example of 'true reconciliation.' (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

In the release, Chief Junior Gould of Abegweit First Nation said the rebranding is a "great show of respect to the Mi'kmaq and all First Nations."

"It shows all Islanders that finding a way to make a difference and being a part of the solution is really a decision — 'Do I want to take action?' 'Do I want to be a part of the solution?' The answer in this case was yes, and we are proud to witness this example of true reconciliation today."

'Speaks volumes'

Chief Darlene Bernard of Lennox Island First Nation said it is an "excellent example of how to acknowledge past mistakes and take steps to reach out to make the changes necessary to start a new chapter."

"This company has deep connections and widespread recognition on Epekwitk, and to use their influence and reach to educate and make positive change for the Epekwitk Mi'kmaq and all Islanders speaks volumes."

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