‘Mi’kma’ki’ is a new series about the Indigenous experience in Newfoundland and Labrador communities

A community that revives the tradition of building birchbark canoes.

Indigenous researchers studying how plastic pollution threatens traditional Inuit food sources.

How knowledge of traditional Mi’kmaq medicine will be passed on to the next generation.

These three stories are told in the documentary series Mi’kma’kinow airing on CBC Gem.

How to build a canoe using birch bark and materials harvested from the earth

Mi’sel Joe, Chief of the Miawpukek First Nation, has worked for decades to bring the tradition of birchbark canoe building back to his community.

With the help of his brother Billy Joe and Derek Stride, Chef Joe is reviving a nearly lost tradition. By building canoes using only materials harvested from the land, they are connecting to the past and ensuring the survival of their culture.

Decolonizing science: ‘takes a lot of talking, takes a lot of signage, takes a lot of work’

Liz Pijogge lives in Nain, Labrador, where pollution threatens the traditional Inuit food supply. Pijogge is a northern contaminants researcher, and she works with oceanologist Max Liboiron to collect data on the effects of plastic pollution so they can show how clear the threat is.

Their community project is part of Liboiron’s Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research (CLEAR), a feminist and anti-colonial lab at Memorial University in St. John’s.

For three friends, sharing language, medicine and food is a form of celebration of their Mi’kmaw identity

For Indigenous peoples, the word “medicine” has many manifestations and meanings. For three people of aboriginal ancestry on the west coast of Newfoundland, the practice of medicine comes in many forms.

Knowledge Keeper Kenneth “Mutchie” Bennet has studied traditional Mi’kmaq medicine for many years. Dean Simon is a Mi’kmaw language guardian. Now they are passing their knowledge on to Bobby White, the Flat Bay Ward Councilor of the Qalipu First Nation, to ensure it is passed on to the next generation.

« The drugs help us on our journey, in our daily lives, » White says in the documentary.

Mi’kma’ki was directed and produced by Wendell G. Collier, originally from the south coast of Newfoundland. The series was an opportunity for him to shine a light on stories and traditions that resonate with Indigenous communities across the province.

« To be invited to create these pieces inside the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, where I was born and where much of my family still lives, has been an incredible honor and privilege, » says- he. “There was such support for the project everywhere, in every community we went to film. It was almost overwhelming. It was a true testament to the hospitable nature of Newfoundlanders, and it truly felt like coming home.

Watch Mi’kma’ki on CBC Gem.


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