Honoring my ancestors

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PAUL, MARY CHRISTIANNE (Christina, Christy Ann) (Morris), Micmac artist and artist’s model; b. c. 1804 in Stewiacke, Colchester County, N. S., or Ship Harbour, Halifax County, N. S., daughter of Hobblewest Paul; d. 1886 in Halifax, N.S.

She was one of the most amazing Mi’kmaq artists of her time. Extremely talented, she made a name for herself in Nova Scotia in the late 1800’s. She did both Quillwork and ribbon applique and has been my inspiration since I was introduced to Quillwork some 20 years ago.

Mrs Morris did exquisite work in the traditional Micmac crafts, supporting her family by the sale of quillwork and basketry. Her needlework, quillwork, splint basketry, and a full-sized canoe and paddles all won first prizes at various provincial exhibitions and she once sold two beaded costumes to Indian Commissioner William Chearnley for the impressive sum of $300. In 1854 she was living in Dartmouth, N.S., and a year later had moved across the harbour to the Northwest Arm, Halifax. There, “by her own industry,” she built and furnished a green frame house and kept a few farm animals.

Only two works of art by Mrs Morris herself have survived: a pair of snowshoes, woven in fine mesh for a mayor of Halifax, and her now-famous cradle panels done about 1868. The birch-bark panels are decorated with coloured porcupine quills in the Northern Lights, Starfish, and Fylfot motifs, on a white quill ground. Central designs are two moose, worked in black quills, a type of realistic motif rare in Micmac quillwork. The panels comprise the largest single piece of Micmac quillwork in existence, and show her to have been a master quiller.

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Wagmatcook First Nation quill course

 

The Mi’kmaq Tradition of Quill Basket Making

 A sense of Mi’kmaq pride resonated in a classroom downstairs at the

 Wagmatcook Cultural Center just before Christmas 2010.

 Mi’kmaq artisan, Beverly Julian of Millbrook, held a three week Traditional Porcupine Quill

 Workshop for 14 lucky students, who gained an ancient Mi’kmaq skill that

 will last them a lifetime.

 Over a hundred years ago, the intricate art and fine detail the Micmac  Quill Box was sought after and traded throughout North America and Europe. The Mi’kmaq were often referred to as the “porcupine people” because of their elaborate quill work. The quill work on birch bark was an ancient art that the Mi’kmaq specialized in. The attention to detail and sophisticated patterns made the Micmac quill work easily distinguishable compared to other Native quill work.

Today that ancient artistry has almost disappeared and is only maintained by a handful of Mi’kmaq artist in Atlantic Canada. Beverly is playing her part to reverse those numbers. Beverly has taught all throughout Atlantic Canada. 

For her, “As an instructor, I have been blessed to be able to teach quillwork to our people,” and she added, “Many

 students show great potential to be future teachers, to carry on this Mi’kmaq tradition.”

 That is the hope Beverly has for her students, to keep the art alive. Beverly was taught by the late Jane Julian of Paqtnkek almost 20 years ago and she has never stopped. Beverly is more than willing to teach anywhere.

 This course occurred because of the will of the Wagmatcook people and the support of the band. 

As they say, “Where there’s a will. There’s away.” The Wagmatcook Band looked at many possibilities of how to get funding for this program. Surprisingly they found funding through the Aboriginal Ministries Circle of the United Church of Canada through the “The Mission and Services Fund.”

 Every student had an opportunity to express their appreciation to Beverly and the Traditional Porcupine Quill Workshop. These are a few words from the Wagmatcook students. 

Francis Pierro was honored to take this workshop, “It’s a beautiful art porcupine quill making. I’ve been taught a very special art. I’m very proud of what I know today. It will be with me forever and teach whoever would like to learn.”

For Colleen Googoo, the course couldn’t have come at a better time, “I think this course is great , it means a lot to me to be able to make these baskets, particularly because it’s an extra way to support my 2 children. I sold my three baskets already so it really helped financially for Christmas.” 

Patsy MacKay wants to improve, “The quill work course was extremely interesting and well organized. I hope to take an advanced quill course with Bev in the future.”

Alexandria Bernard said it simply, “Quill basket are hard work, time and patience. Loved every minute of it.” 

Vickie Price was amazed what great preparation it took just to begin making a quill basket, “What I gained from this course is how and when to acquire your materials and prepare them. I was also happy to work with a team of Mi’kmaq crafters.” 

Mi’kmaq elder and locally known crafts person, Anna Kay Pierro, has been waiting for a long time to learn this craft, “I always wanted to do this kind of craft. I enjoyed this porcupine quill work. Now I really know how much hard work it takes to make a quill box. It also shows how much harder it was during the good old years for our elders to make quill boxes.” 

Judy Googoo, who owns her own craft store in Wagmatcook, says many tourist drop into her shop looking for quill baskets. “This summer, I will have a supply of quill baskets, and will be proud to say, we make them here, right in the store. I will have demo’s made right in the shop so the tourist will have full appreciation of how much work it takes to produce a porcupine basket, raw material to a finish form of art.”

For all, the course and the opportunity to work with Beverly is something everyone will cherish forever. Many friendships were formed and many were renewed. For Beverly, the three weeks working with the students has been gratifying, “I have been so impressed by the dedication of the 14 students that took this course. Equally impressed by their natural talent.” 

If your community is interested in having this program in your community contact Beverly Julian at her website www.sweetgrassartscentre.wordpress.com  

George G. Paul

Communications Officer 

Kwilmu’kw Maw-Klusuaqn, Mi’kmaq Rights Initiative 

851 Willow Street 

Truro, Nova Scotia, B2N 6N8 

Millbrook – 902-843-3880 fax 902-843-3882 

Eskasoni – 902-379-2209 fax 902-379-2186 

Blackberry – 902-890-4830 

georgepaul@mikmaqrights.com www.mikmaqrights.com

Traditional dress

Inspired by my Mi’kmaq ancestors, I have been researching the style of traditional dress they used.

Because paintings of the past are not always accurate, I have been looking for pictures. Some of these I have found on the Nova Scotia museum site.

“The picture is of Molly Muise who lived to a great age and was so much respected by her white neighbors that they erected a tombstone to her memory.” [Accession Note BA19.6.1, Fort Anne] Her dates of birth and death are not known. This may be the earliest portrait of a Mi’kmaq by a photographic process. Molly Muise (the name was originally the French ‘Mius’ and is now spelled Meuse and Muse as well) is wearing a peaked cap with double-curve beadwork, a dark shirt, a short jacket with darker cuffs, over which she apparently has draped a second short jacket, its sleeves pulled inside, as a capelet. Her traditional dress with the large fold at the top is held up by suspenders with ornamental tabs. In her hands she seems to be clutching a white handkerchief.”

picture dated 1863-1865

The woman is  Mary Christianne Paul Morris (1814-1884), living at Chocolate Lake, Halifax. Note the small quillwork box, and the quillwork canoe model. Her work was highly praised and sought after.

Mary Christianne Paul Morris (1814-1884), and her adopted son Joe. This undated photograph by J. S. Rogers (working 1863-1874), owner of The People’s Gallery, Halifax, was published as a line drawing in 1868. [Reference unknown.] A second copy in the Bureau of American Ethnology Collection, National Archives, Washington D.C., is labeled “Micmac Costumes, 1865, near Halifax, Cresmcook? [Chezzetcook?] N. S.” Identification of the woman as Christianne Morris is based on comparison of costume to that in the Gush and Starr paintings (previously shown), and on the fact that Christianne Morris was well-known in the city, and had posed for at least one other artist. This particular woman was also photographed by W. D. O’Donnell.

drum

DRUM! TO PERFORM AT THE 2010 OLYMPICS! TREVOR GOULD FEATURED IN CHRONICLE HERALD…World will meet Mi’kmaq
Read on Chronicle Herald website (opens a new window)
DRUM! going to Olympics, introducing native culture to new audiences
By ELISSA BARNARD Arts Reporter

Thu. Jan 28 – 4:53 AM
His father wanted him to pursue country music but Trevor Gould preferred traditional Mi’kmaq music.

At age 10, he started singing on the powwow drum and then he founded the Mi’kmaq northern-style powwow drum group Eastern Star Singers, which toured in the eastern United States and across Canada.

“That’s where I found my music, with the younger people, and it started to grow in our community,” says Gould, of Paq’tnkek, in Afton, Antigonish County.

His late father Joey Gould, a traditional Mi’kmaq country singer and guitarist, didn’t mind his son’s choice.

“He accepted it – as long as I was doing music.”

Gould, now 26, is going to the Olympics as a singer, drummer and dancer with DRUM! and is also hard at work as the youngest band councillor for Paq’tnkek.

“I went for it, to represent the youth, and since I’ve been here the last two months there are a lot of other issues in housing, welfare and family issues. I wanted to be a positive role model and example for other youth here and, now, it’s more for everyone.”

Gould is very loyal to Paq’tnkek First Nation. He left home to study sociology and history at Dalhousie University with a view to coming home to live and work.

It was while he was living in Halifax that he got involved in DRUM! “Back in 2004 – my father passed away in 2004 – and a couple of months after I got a call to join DRUM! in September of ’04.

“I was going to school at Dal and a friend of Brookes Diamond’s – we have a mutual friend, Alan Syliboy, he’s a good friend of mine. We did a lot of work together with Eastern Star – and Brookes called him and asked if he knew anyone who knew drumming and singing and lived in the city.” Syliboy called up Gould.

“At first coming from a traditional background – and I’m not involved in the musical or theatrical world – I was reluctant but Brookes sold the show really well to me and I went for it. I highly believe in the message and I also like travelling.”

DRUM!, started by Diamond in 1999, has grown into a widely touring musical spectacle featuring musicians, dancers, drummers and singers from Nova Scotia’s four principal cultures – aboriginal, black, Celtic and Acadian. Gould is pleased that DRUM! is taking the Mik’maq culture “to places where people have never heard of the Mi’kmaq before.”

In February DRUM! is going to the Olympics and, beginning Feb. 15, will be seen throughout Vancouver and its surrounding communities with six performances in five venues.

DRUM! will also take part in Nova Scotia Day on Feb. 16 with a performance with Mount Uniacke’s Buck 65.

Gould has been so busy as a band councillor that he hasn’t had time to get excited about going to the Olympics but “my community is excited for me.” However, he’s excited to be bringing Mi’kmaq culture to the West Coast and to be part of the show’s new segment called Drums of the World. For the shows in Vancouver, he’ll be drumming in a group including British Columbia-based cultural influences – Japanese, Chinese and East Indian – and musicians representing the four host First Nations – Lil’wat, Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh.

Gould is also a member of A Tribe Called Mi’kmaq, a group of 15 drummers and singers from Millbrook that is in the running for the powwow idol online competition ( http://www.powwowidol.com), with voting for Round 2 ending Sunday. When Gould started powwow singing and drumming at 10 “there was little culture and tradition and language, and we started learning how to drum and we were learning our culture off reserve from other groups and elders. “The drum taught me a lot about equality and humility and camaraderie. We formed our own family. Because it’s also a form of prayer, we rely on each other.”

ebarnard@herald.ca

VISIT OUR SHOWS PAGE FOR DETAILS ON EACH PERFORMANCE

For interviews and more information contact:

Fiona Diamond
Vice-President
Brookes Diamond Productions / DRUM! Live
E: fiona@brookesdiamond.com
T:     (902) 492-1115  
F: (902) 492-8383

or Greg Guy
Publicist
  (902) 425-3348  
  (902) 456-9244   (mobile)

welcome

This site is meant for all who love artistic expression and would like to learn more about the Mik’maq arts.

My name is Beverly Julian

I am Mik’maq

I am a teacher

An artist

A mother and grandmother.

I teach quill work.

I am passionate about Mik’maq traditional dress

Enjoy and come back often.