Canada 150 Considered

Canadian Treaties Map_0

Canadian Treaties map produced by GIS and Cartography Office, Department of Geography, University of Toronto for the exhibit Canada By Treaty: Negotiating Histories, co-curated by Heidi Bohaker, James Bird and Laurie Bertram. ©2017. Click for large, downloadable version.

Adventure Canada is celebrating this year—celebrating many things, in fact. We are celebrating our own thirtieth anniversary as a company; we’re celebrating anniversaries of our partners, the World Wildlife Fund (fifty years), as well as Nikon (one hundred years) and—perhaps most importantly—we are celebrating 150 years of Canadian Confederation.

That last one, of course, is being observed across the country. (Though the year of Confederation depends on the province—for our friends in Newfoundland & Labrador, to give just one example, it was 1949, not 1867!)

Many of us will be spending July 1, Canada Day aboard the Ocean Endeavour in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where so many currents meet and swirl together. A voyage by sea is an apt metaphor for the national project: Sometimes the waters are smooth; sometimes, stormy, but we journey together on the tides of history.

The Canadian story is complicated, and in choosing to celebrate it, we acknowledge its complexity—and its imperfections. While we celebrate diversity, we recognize that Canada does not work well for everyone. While we celebrate democracy, we recognize that not everyone has equal influence, equal power, or equal privilege. While we celebrate our many cultures, we acknowledge that power and opportunity are not equitably distributed among them. While we celebrate the natural world, we acknowledge that the environment is under constant threat.

Importantly, we acknowledge that Canada only exists as a nation, in both law, and history, because of Indigenous peoples. We acknowledge and affirm the principles of self-determination and the sovereignty of those nations with whom Canada has entered into treaties and land claims, and those whose territorial and claims are pending or unceded. We recognize that these relationships are formative, and binding, and as much a part of the rights and obligations of our nation as the British North America Act, the Constitution, and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

For Adventure Canada, this year of celebration is also an opportunity for reflection. How can we be better partners with the First Peoples, in whose traditional territories we live, work, and travel? How can we support local economies sustainably, create more opportunities for cultural engagement, and be better stewards of the natural world together?

All these questions add up to one thing: how can we be better Canadians? In 2017, more than ever, we have the opportunity to ask, and to listen.

We think that’s something to celebrate—and we hope you’ll celebrate with us!

Meet Chief Mi’sel Joe

CHIEF MISEL JOEMi’sel Joe was born in Miawpukek in 1947 to a family with strong ties to the community. Both his grandfather and uncle have held the office of hereditary Saqamaw—a high ranking spiritual leader traditionally tasked with spiritual and cultural leadership. His great great uncle, Morris Lewis, was the first appointed Chief in Newfoundland by the Grand Chief in Mi’kmaq territory. Mi’sel was educated in the Mi’kmaq ways and traditions, and at sixteen was given the alternative to either leave the reservation to seek employment, or travel to a neighbouring community to attend secondary school. He chose the former.

During his years away from the community, Mi’sel travelled widely and cut his teeth on a wide variety of professions. He worked in farms and factories, in construction and on railroads. He drove trucks and operated heavy machinery. He worked on fishing boats and in mines underground, and acted as labour foreman. But years passed, and in 1973 he moved back to Miawpukek.

Since then, Mi’sel has been been involved in First Nations Politics, initially as a councillor. After the death of his uncle, Chief William Joe, in 1982, Mi’sel became Saqamaw and Newfoundland District Chief for the Mi’kmaq Grand Council. He is currently in his sixth consecutive two-year term as Administrative Chief for the nation, and is recognized provincially, nationally, and internationally as a spiritual leader and healer, ambassador of his people. He has presented on native medicines and traditional healing practices at international medical conferences and hosted the 1996 International Healing Conference at Miawpukek. He is on the board of Parks Canada, a mentor of the Trudeau Foundation, a member of the First Nations Trust Fund, and sits on the Executive Council of the Atlantic Policy Congress. In 2004, Mi’sel was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, by Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador in recognition of his contribution to the economic, social, and political development of the Mi’kmaq people of the province.

Adventure Canada is proud to be setting sail in 2015 with Chief Mi’sel Joe on our Newfoundland & Wild Labrador expedition. This stunning itinerary departs from Saint-Pierre, France, and travels up the west coast of Newfoundland before crossing into the wilds of Labrador. As we move north, Chief Mi’sel Joe will be on hand as a member of our elite team of resource specialists, helping to share his wealth of knowledge and experience in—as well as his lifelong love for—the region. We are also thrilled to be stopping in Miawpukek (Conne River) on our 2015 Newfoundland Circumnavigation expedition, where we look forward to meeting with the community and sharing stories. Just one more way Adventure Canada is helping to spread culture, knowledge, and community.

Chief Mi’sel Joe will be delivering the 2015 Whipper Lecture on Tuesday, February 24, 2015, at the Canadian Canoe Museum (in partnership with Adventure Canada) in Peterborough, ON. Join us for an evening that promises to be enlightening and entertaining—free to all museum members, and $10 for non-members. The lecture includes a free guided tour, starting at 5:30PM. RSVP to 705-748-9153 or info@canoemuseum.ca for more information.

For more information about our Newfoundland & Wild Labrador itinerary, click here!