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Page 47 - A Talk with Grand Captain Alex Denny

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1985/8/1 (927 reads)
 

They also started different residential schools to try to educate these Indians. The master scheme was to make Indians a part of the so-called Canadian mosaic, to try to get them to live like non-Indians. But that hasn't worked. (The Grand Council today • does it have po? litical clout?) No. (When you as a Grand Captain appear at the Chapel Island Mis? sion.. ..) I think it's just a figurehead. I'm hoping that it would be the real repre? sentation of the Grand Council--! try to give advice. In 1960, the government decided to estab? lish different chiefs and coxjncils to gov? ern different reservations. (Did they be? come the new Grand Council?) No. Just chiefs and councils of their areas. (But none of that is hereditary.) None of that is hereditary. It just started in the '60s. Along with us being allowed to go to liq? uor stores. (Before that....) You couldn't give an Indian a drink--it was a criminal offense to serve Indians any booze any? where in Nova Scotia. (I take it you se6 these both as destructive • (1) They al? lowed the sale of liquor. (2) They elected, rather than searched for hereditary lead? ers.) Yeah. The so-called Indian Act. (What seems to be happening now is that the Micmac not only lost political control, losing the Grand Council--today even the religious aspect of Chapel Island seems to be falling away. To some, it is more of a picnic than the sacred thing.) I have to put that blame on the religious educators. During the 100 years that the priests were out (after the fall of Louisbourg to the British), the Micmac people, the Grand Council, were responsible to pass down the Catholic doctrine to their children. My fa? ther made me learn my prayers in Micmac. But because of the education system we have been coerced to take--the residential schools run by priests and different nuns-- when you spoke the Micmac language your head was beaten in. If you prayed in Mic? mac, that was a no-no. And I feel, God bless their souls, that the nuns and the priests did not do their job once they came back' into our lives--so consequently we are losing the religious aspect. Who will respect a captain who does not say his prayers in Micmac? He does not have the function he used to have. (Ray Doucet told me Vatican II was nothing new to the Micmacs, that for the 100 years you're talking about they didn't use Lat? in.) No, we did it in Micmac. That's all I'm trying to say. If you're Jewish and you know your prayers in Jewish--and some? one comes in and teaches you in a language that's different from yours--you'11 learn, you'll learn to memorize prayers. But you no longer have the feeling and full under? standing of what these different prayers mean. And this is why we are losing. Even our kids today are not speaking the lan? guage. Because they made sure the Micmac language wasn't spoken in the school. They made sure that our prayers weren't said in Micmac. The reason why so much is lost at the Chapel Island is because they haven't given us an opportunity to teach our own kids in our native tongue. I've talked for years about bilingual, bi- cultural education. I'm not a learned per? son. I read a hell of a lot about indigen? ous populations in America. We went to Bos? ton to work. I worked there. I realized a lot of these Spanish people, Puerto Rican people--you'd go to a car wash, go to a restaurant to wash the dishes--they'd take the jobs away from you. Then I realized, in the '70s, these people no longer ar? rived. I used to mix cement and work in high steel--and the Puerto Rican friends of mine never showed up. And I asked the boss, "Where the hell did these fellows go, back to Puerto Rica?" He said, "No. They went back to school. They've got bilingual, bicultural education here now. They've started to teach these Puerto Ricans in their native tongue." And every Micmac chief and council that I talk to--you know what they say? "Where the hell are you go? ing to get a job speaking Micmac?" And I ask them, "Where the hell are you getting a job speaking English? You know, you're working for Indians, you're working be? cause of that Indian Act money." I agree with the older people--about los? ing religion at Chapel Island--we are los? ing touch. Nobody has control. CONTINUED 2?' Dooley's Pharmacy ''7 Box 323 ' > 226-3133 ' . Box 323 ARICHAT iSummer Talent Showcase I The finest of Nova Scotia's amateur entertainers will begin performing for you in locations across the Prov? ince during the summer of 1985. For more information contact the SUMMER TALENT SHOWCASE co-ordinator in your area. Sherry Robertson, at 539-3594. Nova Scotia Performs Nova Scotia A PROJECT OF Department of Culture, Recreation and Fitness Honourable Billy Joe MacLean Minister (47),
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