Fisherman’s Pride ~ Sustainability

Sustainability is more than just a word to the Mi’kmaq people of the Lennox Island First Nation. Sustainability is an inherent and essential element of our culture, passed down through generations in the legend of Kluskap who promised the Creator that his people would “…look after the sky and the land and the water and all its creatures.” It is said by the elders that Nova Scotia became Kluskap’s bed when he lay down to rest. With the island across the water, Prince Edward Island, as his pillow. He’d named our island Abegweit meaning, “cradled on the waves,” in the language of the Mi’kmaq people.

The Mi’kmaq people were present when the Europeans made landfall on Abegweit – first the Scottish and Norse voyagers, and then the French, English, Scottish and Irish settlers. At this time no one claimed title to the land and the Mi’kmaq roamed freely, hunting and fishing all over Abegweit. It was not to last. As the settlers cleared the forest and turned the land over for agriculture, life changed drastically for the Mi’kmaq people. They had nowhere to go in their ancestral land, and the environment they lived off was being plundered. Only by the good grace of landowner James Montgomery were they allowed to make their way to Lennox Island on Prince Edward Island and live off the land in the undisturbed and harmonious way of the culture.

Through the early years of the 19th century the Mi’kmaq petitioned the government of Prince Edward Island to purchase the island for them as a homeland. Their treaties were ignored. Rescue came through an act of good Christian charity in 1870. A London-based organization called The Aborigines Protection Society bought Lennox Island for the sum of 400 pounds and designated it for, “The use of the Aboriginal population of Prince Edward Island.” Three years later the land and its people came under the jurisdiction of the Canadian government when Prince Edward Island joined Confederation. The Lennox Island First Nation is now administered by a democratically elected Chief and Council.