Interpretation Centre

T - Terry Shaw
M - Monique Jeannotte

T - In your Interpretation Centre, what services are you offering?
M - The first thing that we have to remember is that we are approximately during the year 1675.
T - 1675! 
M - So why this period of time? This is at approximately that date that Mi’gmaq people started to have permanent contacts with Europeans. Due to these contacts, Mi’gmaq people had access to 4 main products: metal, cooper pots, beads and sheep products.
T - Beads.
M - You will notice that we find beads on almost every products here. Whether it’s for jewels, wood beads or glass beads, there are some of all types. There are long ones.
T - Beads as you say had been recognized as having values.
M - Well, the beads, for sure for Mi’gmaqs, it was very important for them to get them. With beads women were able to decorate their dresses, their costumes. During those times, women liked to look nifty. Compare to today, it has not changed. It is still like this today.
T - No, no, no! Perfect.
M - For jewel also, what we are finding in our jewels, it is products from the lands. Here for example, we have hazelnut trees.
T - OK, well yes. Hazelnut trees with beads.
M - Yes, glass beads. With hazelnut trees, it was used to make necklaces for children. Dentician necklaces.
T - Dentician necklaces.
M - Yes.
T - And here, you have necklaces with porcupine hairs.
M - Yes. Porcupine hairs. We are making a lot of these because it’s very beautiful and people are asking them a lot. Many people want to have them.
T - And then porcupine, you are not going in the forest to kill the porcupine just to make this type of…
M - No, but often, we will see some porcupine roadkills. When we see that, then we are taking advantage of the situation.
T - That’s it.
M - We take them for useful reasons.
T - Perfect, then!
M - We pick them to make jewels.
T - So, you are using the animals, not for the purpose of killing them to eat them.
M - No. Never. For Mi’gmaq it was something that was super sacred, never would we have destroyed something for the purpose of destroying.
T - Exactly. OK. Then to simply collect the animals, skins that you find along the road which would help the environment or other things. Perfect. It’s interesting. Also about the bones.
M - Bones also. It could be moose, derr or bear bones. We will use them to make jewels.
T - So as you say, you will…
M - It’s the same thing about moose, deers and bears. It’s during hunting season that men will kill the animal to eat them. But with bones, we use it to make tools and jewels.
T - OK! Perfect.
M - We use the skins at our site also.
T - The skin. Ok. So the meat and the animal.
M - Nothing is lost.
T - There is no lost.
M - No!
T - So the bones are used, the skins are used, the hairs.
M - Hairs are often used to decorate mocassins.
T - Mocassins with porcupine hairs.
M - It’s the same thing.
T - The beads.
M - Moose hairs, also to make bullets, we made small bullets.
T - Oh yes. You would stuffed the bullets with hairs.
M - Yes.
T - And the fabric to cover all that?
M - It is a leather piece.
T - A piece of leather that is the skin.
M - Yes, that’s it. A deer or moose skin. It doesn’t matter.
T - So you are saying that you are using almost everything?
M - Nothing is wasted.
T - No part that is not used.
M - Everything is used.
T - So here, as you say in 1675, I see that it is divided.
M - In 4 sections. It is to represent the four season: summer, fall, winter and spring. For each season, during summer what we do, we explain to tourist the main activities the Mi’gmaq had during this era. We also show them the various tools, different objects the Mi’gmaq were using. Also on this site, we offer food tasting sessions, various activities, so people on the site will make containers, cat tail tablecloths, baskets.
T - So you will put life at the site by making and using the tools.
M - Tools used during that time.
T - From the era. Why the seasons? Is there a reason for this, for the Natives, for the Mi’gmaq?
M - However, we must not forget that the number 4 is very important for the Mi’gmaq. So 4: four seasons, four directions, four Mi’gmaq colors, the four elements. So the number four was very important.
T - It represents a lot. Were they nomadic?
M - Mi’gmaq were nomadic. Which means that they were moving each season. However, when they were moving they were not carrying everything with them. They were only bringning with them the bark panels. The wood structure was left on site.
T - So they were coming back?
M - Exactly! They were always coming at the same place.
T - That’s why the site is organize that way. To represent.
M - Yes.
T - Perfect. So I think we will tour the site. Here, do I really see?
M - Yes. Here is the store. We see various things, dream catchers, various jewels which are made.
M - So here, what we find is just a small part of the visit we offer tourist of our interpretation site. Here this wheel identifies all the animals, all the fishes the Mi’gmaq would fish. And if you notice, each is indicated by month. Here for example, I take from mid-May to mid-November, the main fishing activity done by Mi’gamq was salmon fishing. If I take September, it was eel fishing. So for each month, we indicate the type of fishing or hunting which was done. If I turn my wheel from mid-May to mid-june, I get common seals and walrus hunting. Then, if I further turn my wheel and that I go to mid-February and mid-March, I get Greenland seals hunting, but I also have smelt fishing which was very important for Mi’gmaq because salmon, trout and smelt were the three very important species of fish. Then from mid-December to mid-January, I have small and big animals hunting which was also very important. So for each month of the year, we have the different hunting and fishing activities done by the Mi’gmaq.
T - So your interpretation site, it was built and created in what year exactly?
M - First of all, the main reason we built this site, it’s to regain back our culture. You must not forget that we don’t have a Reserve.
T - That’s it.
M - We had nothing to represent ourselves at the cultural level, so it’s for this reason that we built this interpretation site.
T - That’s why I see people here. Their connection to the site has value for them. For them it’s exceptional. As you say, it is the culture the culture which is representing them. It’s a reflection of who they are.
M - And we must not forget, but here, for sure, I’m talking on a personal level, I have participated to the construction of this place.
T - Ok.
M - The exterior site.
T - The exterior site. Yes.
M - One thing is for sure, when we explain to the tourists what has been happening on the site, we are well suited to talk about it since we are the ones who has built it, who have lived it.
T - When you say you have built the site, is it really all of you?
M - Yes. With our own hands and with tools from the era.
T - Your ideas, of all of you, as Mi’gmaq?
M - We must not forget that one person was our guide, but it’s the Mi’gmaq of Gespeg who built the site.
T - And the exact year for the construction?
M - We started to build in February 95 and the Official Opening was held during the summer of 96.
T - OK. The people which were working here, it’s Native people?
M - They are all Mi’gmaq.
T - So they are all Mi’gmaq, so the tourists which are coming here are welcomed by Mi’gmaq?
M - Yes always. There are people here at the welcoming booth that are taking care…
T - Just to welcome the visitors?
M - Yes. Then we make them go over there where they are shown a movie which last about 17 minutes. The film is about the construction of this place.
T - Ok.
M - By us, the Mi’gmaq.
T - Can we see, in this movie, the various members which are working here?
M - Yes.
T - As you said, the main reason to build this infrastructure, it is to recognize the culture.
M - Yes, to regain back our culture so we can share with Natives and non-native persons.

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Terry Shaw
Terry Shaw asks Monique Jeannotte about how the Interpretation Centre got started.

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