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Page 63 - Gabriel Sylliboy Becomes Grand Chief, 1918

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1996/12/1 (4217 reads)

Gabriel Sylliboy Becomes Grand Chief, 1918 offered in Mi'kmaq and English with an Introduction by Helen Sylliboy and David L. Schmidt INTRODUCTION: Until 1918, the Grand Chieftanship of the Mi'kmaq Nation's Grand Council was a hereditary office held until death and subsequently bequeathed to an adult son or another male kin mem? ber. However, when Grand Chief Simon Denny died that year, he for? bade any of his children from assuming the office for reasons we have yet to determine. Despite the entreaties of elders who strongly favored the old ways, an election was held during the 1918 Saint Anne mission at Chapel Island to choose a new Grand Chief to re? place Simon Denny. The following eyewitness news story describes the election of Why- cocomagh's Gabriel Sylliboy (1874-1963) to this office. Written by an unnamed correspondent and jDubiished in the Mi'kmaq language in the September 1918 edition of Sentanewey {Saint Anne's) • a monthly I newspaper also known as The Micmac Messenger and edited by Fa? ther Pacifique of Restlgouche, Quebec • this news report demon? strates how native political leadership and Catholic spirituality were intimately linked in the early years of this century, as they continue to be today. We have transliterated the original text from Father Pacl- fique's alphabet to the Smith-Francis alphabet, an orthography devel? oped by Doug Smith and Bernie Francis and promoted by the Mic? mac Association for Cultural Studies under the leadership of Peter Christmas of Membertou. An English translation is also provided. • H.S. and D.L.S. Piley I'nu saqmaw Kaplie'l Silipay We'koqma'q tley PO'TLOTEK, U'nama'kik. 8 te'sukna'q A'kist, 1918. No'kmatutk, aknutmuloq ta'n teUwhseta'newimkis tetta: panta'sikip mawio'mi ula tepkunset newktikunitek; tujiw pa'tlia's mawio'miey pekisinkip, aqq elp na pa kulpiw poqjipejita'pnik mimajuinu'k ta'nik naji alasutma'tijika, teluemk, suel etuk kaqipejita'tij ta'n te'sitij mimajuinu'k U'nama'kik na asukom te'sikl utana. Toqo tlisip | weja'tekemk 1 Kjipuktukewa'j saqmaw nelmi ansma kaqipejita'ji wji'nmim aqq msit wnijanua. Toqo tujiw We'kapekitkewa'j I'nuisaqmaw aqq wnijin aqq me' ji'nmuk: toqo Maliko'mijkewa'j saqmaw nekm pekisink aqq me' ji'nmuk; tujiw apj Po'kmkekewa'j I'nuisaqmaw elp nekm pekisink aqq pukwelkik ji'nmuk pejita'tij aqq elp wnijanuaq. Tujiw Grand Chief Gabriel Sylliboy on the steps of the old church at Chapel Island, 1962 New Indian Chief Gabriel Sylliboy of Whycocomagh CHAPEL ISLAND, Cape Breton. August 6, 1918. My friends, I will tell you how wonderful Saint Anne's mission was. It started on the first of the month [July 1918]. The mis? sion priest arrived and soon thereafter the people, all those who came to pray, started to arrive. Almost everyone came from Cape Breton's six villages [Eskasoni or Eskisoqnik green, raw pine; Whycocomagh end of land; Wagmatkook clear stream; Po'tlotek at Port Toulouse, now Chapel Island; Malagawatch place of abundance or maple trees; and Kjikank big town or vil? lage, on Sydney River near today's St. Rita's Hospital, also known as Kuntewiktuk on the rock. This community was forci? bly displaced by Sydney's city fathers to swampy scrub land in 1922 and later renamed Membertou after the seventeenth- century Mi'kmaq chief Mawpeltu]. The chief from Halifax and his men and their children came quite a distance; as did the chief from We'kapekitk [Maria, Que.] and his children and ad? ditional men; so did Merigomish's chief and his men; and the chief at Pomkwet [near Afton, N.S.] and many men from there and their children. The people all gathered together. Almost immediately the men gathered in the great house to talk. [The kjikuom or great house was a large birch bark and tar paper structure in which chiefs (senior leaders of reserve com? munities) and captains (community representatives to the Grand Council) met to discuss tribal affairs.] They arrived at a consen? sus and decided who would take the place of the late Grand Chief Simon Denny: the Grand Chief's young son. But the young man could not become chief because his father, on his Gas Tank Replacements & Repairs For Personal Efficient Service: Call 539-2122 Sydney Radiator 20 Years a Family Business 2 Years Warranty on All Parts * We Accept VISA & MASTERCARD New Heaters & Radiators or Repairs We Service and Ship 121 Prince Street, Sydney Anywhere on cape Breton Island
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