INTRODUCTION

We, the Mi’gmaq, have always lived on this land, in this place that we call Mi’gma’gi.  Our Creation Story teaches us about how our territory was made, the First Families, and the creation of the seven districts that make up Mi’gma’gi. In Mi’gmaq,  when we speak about our territory, we say “nm’tginen,” which means “our territory.”

CREATION STORY
Our Creation Story instructs us that honour and respect for all living things, and for the earth itself, provide the way to knowledge and spirituality so that the Mi’gmaq will flourish and we can maintain harmony with nature.Our Creation Story speaks about:
  • the creation of the sky and the directions of north, south, east, west, up, down, and inward, the last of which signifies the abilities that lie within the human form,
  • how, from these abilities, humans were able to make songs and rituals and to remember and tell stories,
  • the making of fire, animals, plants and the ways humans were allowed to use them,
  • how seven men and seven women founded our seven First Families, the basis of Mi’gmaq reliance on family groups,
  • how the seven First Families created our seven political and social districts,

and

  • how, from these foundations, we, the Mi’gmaq, established our culture and traditions.
 UNDERSTANDING MI’GMA’GI AS A PLACE
Mi’gma’gi includes at least what we know today as Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, the Gaspé Peninsula and other parts of Québec, New Brunswick (north of the St. John watershed), parts of Newfoundland and Labrador, part of Maine, and the islands in the Baie des Chaleurs, as well as their surrounding coastal and marine areas.   
Seven districts make up that part of Mi’gma’gi that lies within modern-day Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, the Gaspé Peninsula of Québec, and northern and eastern New Brunswick.
The seven districts of Mi’gma’gi are:
THE DISTRICT OF GESPE’GEWA’GI
We are pursuing a claim to our territory, Gespe’gewa’gi, which means “last acquired land.” Gespe’gewa’gi includes what is known today as north and north-central New Brunswick, the Gaspé Peninsula, parts of the mainland of Québec, as well as the islands and surrounding waters. Our claim to Gespe’gewa’gi is described in our statement of claim document Nm’tginen: Me’mnaq Ejiglignmuetueg gis na Naqtmueg.

 

ORAL TRADITIONS AND OUR TERRITORY
Along with our Creation Story, many other oral traditions teach us about who we are, where we came from, and our responsibilities to our territory.  Mi’gmaq Elders still share their teachings,
  • Weja’tegemgeg wesgijinuiteg Nnu, Mi’gmawa’j, ne’gaw geggung aq e’w’g assusuti siawiango’tmn sipu’l, nme’jg, nipugtl, wi’sisg, aq sisipg ula tet Gespe’gewa’gig, lluignegewei maqamigew Migma’gig. Ula assusuti wejiaq Gisu’lg. 
Translated:
  • Ever since the Mi’gmaq were born, we have always had and used our authority to continue to care for the rivers, fish, woods, animals, and birds, here in Gespe’gewa’gi, the Seventh District of Mi’gma’gi.  Our authority comes from the Creator.


Through the Mi’gmaq language and oral traditions, we can affirm our continuous occupancy and exclusive use of our territory.

Mi’gmaq Elders speak about sites, rivers and tributaries throughout all of Gespe’gewa’gi that were named, known and used by the Mi’gmaq long before the arrival of Europeans.

Our language bears testimony to our history within Gespe’gewa’gi and throughout Mi’gma’gi. Our language informs us of our relationships with the land and within the territory.

Through the Mi’gmaq language and oral traditions, knowledge of our land has been passed from one generation to the next over thousands of years.

LIVING CONTINUOUSLY IN THE TERRITORY
 
In addition to our oral history, as told through many stories and songs, there are historical accounts of our continuous inhabitation of Gespe’gewa’gi. For example, we know that:
  • at the time of first contact with the French (in the late 16th century), we had already been living all throughout the Gaspé Peninsula, especially along the coastline on either side of the Baie des Chaleurs. 
  • in the Peace and Friendship treaties signed between the Mi’gmaq and the British Crown in the 1700’s, we never ceded or surrendered our land through the signing of these treaties. 
  • When the British signed agreements and treaties with our ancestors, the original inhabitants of this area, the Crown confirmed its belief that we were indeed a sovereign nation that had occupied our land for thousands of years and thus we had the sovereign right to enter into such treaties.
CONCLUSION
 
We have inhabited Gespe’gewa’gi for thousands of years.  We know this from our oral histories.  We have been relating to the land and its creatures as we were instructed in our Creation Story. Our political and social systems, practiced for thousands of years on this land, come from that same source. They remain equally as important today as they were to our ancestors.   
LEARN MORE
Read our statement of claim document, Nm’tginen, in your choice of Mi’gmaq, English or French.
 
Read the Creation Story.