‘We are all treaty people,’ says curator of a portal aimed at better mutual understanding.
David Perley is the ‘visionary’ First Nations education specialist and Mi’kmaq-Wolastoqey Centre director behind the inception of the Wabanaki Collection, a web portal of Indigenous educational resources. (University of New Brunswick)
The Wabanaki were New Brunswick’s first peoples, but David Perley says many students in the province are graduating from high school without knowing much about them.
“My ancestors identify themselves as Wabanaki people,” Perley said.
“In my language, that means people of the dawn.”
The Wabanaki Confederacy was around long before contact with European settlers, said Perley.
“They were dealing with other Indigenous nations, such as the Mohawks and so on. It was always discussing boundary lines, for example, or the need to have alliances against a common threat, political discussions on what they had to do in terms of internal governance and so on.”
After contact, said Perley, “It became a strong confederacy because of the need to have unity in terms of dealing with settler society.”
One of the resources in the Wabanaki Collection is an interactive map with legends about the formation of various geographical features. It was contributed by the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor, Maine. (The Abbe Museum)
The director of the Mi’kmaq-Wolastoqey Centre at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton said textbooks make barely a reference to Wabanaki history, let alone the culture and traditions that have been passed down for thousands of years.
The centre has launched a new online resource to try to rectify that.
It’s available to anyone looking for information about Indigenous peoples of the Maritimes.
Perley said the project was spawned by the many requests he used to get — dating back to the 1990s — from students and teachers looking for reliable reference material.
At the time, there was little to be found.
“And especially not any resource that was written by or produced by Wabanaki people — the Wolostoqiyik, the Mi’kmaq, the Passamaquoddy and the Abenakis,” Perley said during an interview with Information Morning Fredericton . . .