A Etuaptmumk Two-Eyed Seeing Pilgrimage
Elder John R. Prosper and settler Dorothy A. Lander embark on a co-learning journey of truth and reconciliation, with all paths leading to St. Anne’s Church, Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation, Mi’kmaki. Then, vintage photos appear on social media of Mi’kmaw Fiddler Joe Marble, together with a 1939 article of his career as a virtuoso musician and devotee of St. Anne. This is just as the Indigenous delegation is meeting with Pope Francis to demand an apology for the role of the Catholic Church in the Indian Residential Schools in Canada. One of many coincidences. The co-authors come to see their collaboration as a pilgrimage. Joe Marble serves as a companion pilgrim, his life story running parallel to John R.’s and Dorothy’s reflections on Indigenous-Settler relations. John R. recounts his personal and family experience of the Shubenacadie Residential School and Dorothy owns the truth of the intergenerational influences of white supremacy and colonization in her family history.
HARP donates 80% of sales to the St. Anne’s Church Restoration Fund, Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation, Antigonish County, Nova Scotia, Mi’kmaki.
Praise for Mi’kmaw Fiddler Joe Marble Plays to St. Anne
Dorothy Lander and Dr. John Graham-Pole are two of my favorite people. They are true and have my upmost love and respect. They cared about truth and reconciliation way before it was the “cool” thing to do. They hold a very special place in my heart. The day I met them, coincidently John’s birthday, I knew my life would never be the same. The bond was instantaneous.
About John R.? Or rather Father John as we have come to call him. John R. is a respected Elder, Keptin, community archivist, and musician, among many other things. John R. will give you tea, food, any information you are looking for, and the shirt off his back. He is a rare find. He will forget more history than I will ever know.
Introducing these three people to each other led to so many amazing events and collaborations, like this book. I am excited for what the future will bring, when we have truth, reconciliation, openness, understanding and mutual respect in our regular dialogue.
Paula Paul, Land Code Coordinator, Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation, Mi’kmaki/Nova Scotia
Elder Albert Marshall and his late wife, Murdena Marshall, have often described Etuaptmumk or Two-Eyed Seeing as a co-learning journey, whereby distinct perspectives are brought together to formulate a new understanding of the world, something that cannot be understood using a single perspective. They have also shared that Two-Eyed Seeing is important because when differing perspectives come together in a co-learning journey, we learn to listen and understand one another in respectful and reciprocal ways. In this book, John R. and Dorothy have done just that – their pilgrimage can be very much understood as a co-learning journey – a unique gift that has been created by bringing together distinct perspectives on everything from the fiddle to the peony to the black ash. There are so many examples of Two-Eyed Seeing all around us, all the time, if only we take the time to notice. It is so refreshing to see that John R. and Dorothy have taken the time to notice and have shared what they have learned with us all. Wela’lin/Nakkumek for allowing us, your readers, to share in your journey.
Debbie Martin, PhD, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Peoples’ Health & Well-Being, Dalhousie University.
Of the many tragedies associated with residential schools, one that often gets overlooked, is the fact that the colonialists behind the schools looked at sophisticated, learned cultures and—due to their own white supremacy—failed to recognize the genius that existed in the Americas. This failure is widely visible today, in the ongoing and ever-incorrect presumption that Indigenous cultures were vacant, merely awaiting civilization by white men. Etuaptmumk, two-eyed seeing, is an effort to appreciate the value of both western and Indigenous ways of understanding the world, and the interconnectedness of all living things on Mother Earth. It’s a high-minded concept that Elder John Prosper and Dorothy Lander generously embody in their ongoing friendship and work together. Here, they look at seemingly disparate aspects of personal and regional histories and connect them in ways that help us all better understand where we come from, who we are, and how we can more harmoniously, justly and sustainably live together on this planet.
Chris Benjamin, Author, Indian School Road: Legacies of the Shubenacadie Residential School
Joe Marble’s story and the journey its authors traveled in its creation shed light on the ways that two vastly different cultural worlds connected, often without our awareness or acknowledgment. The practice of “two-eyed seeing” provided Nova Scotia’s indigenous peoples with the benefit of viewing the world—and thus learning—from both perspectives. To readers accustomed to analyzing their surroundings through a myopic Eurocentric lens, this narrative reveals its limits in comprehending not only the Mi’kmaw perspective, but also the complex world in which we live.
Bruce MacDonald, Retired Social Studies Teacher, Antigonish, Nova Scotia
Susan Dion, Potawatomi-Lenapé, has said that Settlers in Canada have too often imagined themselves as “perfect stranger[s]” to Indigenous peoples. Settlers have in fact became distanced from Indigenous issues through settlement and integration processes. Nova Scotia is a small province and Mi’kmaw and people of Settler descent are geographically ‘not far’ from each other. Take for example the communities of Antigonish and nearly Paq’tnkek, only 24 kilometers apart. And yet through processes of colonization, too many Settlers imagined their relationship with Mi’kmaw people as one of “perfect strangers.” Settlers who were educated in Eurocentric ways of knowing, being, and doing, learned an incomplete and inaccurate history of Canada. They did not learn that as Canadians we are all Treaty People. There is much unlearning and relearning to be done if we are to rebuild our treaty relationship with Mi’kmaw people.
Mi’kmaw Fiddler Joe Marble Plays to St. Anne: A Etuaptmumk/Two-Eyed-Seeing Pilgrimage, a collaboration between Elder John R. Prosper and Settler Dorothy A. Lander, will be of benefit to Mi’kmaw and Settler students in this province. Mi’kmaw students will see their experiences and their relations reflected back to them—the hardship and the places of resilience—throughout this book. Settler students will have a window in how processes of colonization, over time, aimed to eclipse Mi’kmaw ways of knowing, being and doing with Eurocentric perspectives. As such the book will provide an important learning resource for Treaty Education in this province.
The book is beautifully created, using its warm narrative and conversational style between the two authors and filled with pictures that provide wonderful windows into the history of Mi’kmaw people in this area of the Nova Scotia. It is a beautiful example of using personal accounts to illustrate larger social and political forces that were shaping Mi’kmaw and Settler communities.
The book is well worth the read. It is designed to be read slowly and pondered over. I suspect it will generate wonderful learning conversations as students and other interested readers make connections to this text and their lives. It is a gift for educators, students and citizens who are hungry for Mi’kmaw and Settler people to no longer be ‘perfect strangers’ to each other.
Joanne Tompkins, Professor, Faculty of Education, St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, Nova Scotia
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