As Canada commemorates 150 years since confederation (and Toque & Canoe celebrates six years!), we thought we’d publish this striking photo taken by Mi’kmaw photographer Patricia Bourque from Prince Edward Island.
If you’ve been following us over the last year, you’ve likely noticed that we’ve stepped up our posts featuring Indigenous tourism in Canada, enriching our already diverse editorial coverage with stories such as Feeding our Spirits in Yuquot, By the Light of the Candlefish, Alan Syliboy’s Whimsical World, Surviving Canada’s Coldest Season, Skwachàys Lodge and Royals Revel in Aboriginal Culture.
It’s been a heck of a learning curve and these adventures around the country have taken us to some seriously remote places — from the West Coast’s Nootka Island all the way to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia where we attended an international conference on Indigenous tourism.
On our travels, we’ve explored conversations about truth and reconciliation and the notion that the two solitudes in Canada aren’t necessarily the English and French (a concept many Canadians grew up with) but rather, Indigenous people and the rest of us.
We’ve learned that conversations need to be had, and that wonderful friendships are waiting to be born. And, we’ve been reminded again that travel is a great excuse for people of all backgrounds to come together to learn about one another.
As elder Ray Williams, a member of the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation, told us in our Yuquot story: “I invite people to come and visit, to laugh with us, and to cry with us. I invite them to come so we can share our stories.”
We have so much more to learn and to see. We know this especially since Toque & Canoe just helped produce the inaugural 2017-2018 Guide to Indigenous Tourism in Canada which can be viewed here for free.
When we reached out to Patricia Bourque to share this photo, which is featured on the inside cover of the guide, we asked her to provide an artist’s statement.
We’ll wrap with a few of her thoughts as Canada Day 150 celebrations wind down. — T&C
“We call Prince Edward Island ‘Epekwitk,’ meaning ‘Cradle on the waves.’ The island is famous for its red sandstone and clay.
“I call this piece ‘Jingle Dress Dancer, Dancing for the Water.’
“Water is sacred and we are surrounded by it. The jingle dress dancer’s dances are powerful medicine. This image portrays strength, good medicine and respect, and prayers for the land, water and air.
“Indigenous people have lived for more than 10,000 years on this land they call Canada. My people have had the longest contact (with Europeans) here at the eastern door. We are resilient, strong people. It is up to each of us to keep our nation alive and well and to live with pride, regardless of the challenges we face.
“I choose to celebrate today and every day as a proud Mi’kmaq First Nation woman, mother and auntie. I’m also grateful to live in the greatest country in the world and, best of all, to live on Mi’kmaq territory.”
— Patricia Bourque, Mi’kmaw photographer
Founded by two Canucks on the loose in a big country, Toque & Canoe is a blog about Canadian travel culture.