INTRODUCTION

To understand the importance of our territory (land and waters), we must understand our relationship with ugs’tqamu, that is “with all of creation.”  Our relationship with ugs’tqamu is the foundation of all Mi’gmaq teachings. In turn, our teachings form the basis of our rights, responsibilities, and title to our territory.
RELATIONSHIP WITH CREATION
In Mi’gmaq, we say:
  • Gisu’lg iga’lugsi’gup ugjit ango’tmenen maqamigew. Gnngi’gwinaqi’g eimu’tipnig aq ne’gaw wetaqia’ti’gw ula maqamigew.”
 Translated:
  • “We were put here by the Creator to care for the land. Our ancestors were here and we have always belonged to this land.”
 For many Mi’gmaq, our relationship with ugs’tqamu is sacred. Our teachings remind us of the importance of our territory. In Mi’gmaq, we say:
  • “Migmewigtug na geggnu’tmulg ta’n telia’sutman aq ta’n tlnmites ta’n goqwei mu nemitmg, st’ge gjijaqamij aq Gisu’lg. Na’te’l wejigweg ta’n teliga’lugsi’gup Gisu’lg elg ta’n teliango’tmn aq tetapua’tmg ms’t goqwei.  Iga’lulg ujgit qamutmn ta’n telpma’timg. Na na’te’l wetaqiaqal g’pnno’lewe’l aq saqamawuti’l.”
 Translated:
  • “The territory is integral to the worldview of the Mi’gmaq; our worldview is predicated on the idea that the world is alive and by living with the four elements of Creation: land, water, air and sky, we the Mi’gmaq of Gespe’gewa’gi accepted our responsibilities to our territory and with each other. From these responsibilities emerge systems of governance that are best understood through the Mi’gmaq language, stories, songs and traditions.”

OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH OUR LAND

As envisioned in our Creation Story, the world is alive and is made up of the four elements of Creation: land, water, air, and sky.  By living in the world, we have accepted full responsibility for our territory and for taking care of each other.
The area with which the Mi’gmaq people have this relationship consists of the territory and waters of Gespe’gewa’gi ~ including the Maqtugweg  (Gulf of St. Lawrence) and the Mawi Poqtapeg (Bay of Chaleur) ~ as well as the network of waterways in the interior of Gespe’gewa’gi.  We have used the area land and its resources and have cared for it for centuries.
Over thousands of years, the territory was named, used and occupied by our ancestors. Our ways of knowing the territory are holistic, which means that we know it as a whole thing instead of separating it into individual parts. This reflects our understanding of the seasons and the way that the waters, land, wind and sky are all connected.
On a practical level, we have used the rich resources of our land to help our people in many ways. For example, the toboggan, birch bark canoes and snowshoes are among the many technologies developed and utilized by our ancestors. Medicines, harvested foods, and fish and other seafood have nourished and cured us. We have devised many types of shelters and clothing for our families with materials harvested from the land. We have likewise given back to the land through our role as caretakers and protectors of it.
CONCLUSION
 
As Mi’gmaq, we honour and uphold our unique relationship to the land and its resources. That is the basis for our worldview and our Gespe’gewa’gi claim and we shall never withdraw from our land or cause it harm.
LEARN MORE

Look at  “Speaking About our Land,” a website developed for youth, which describes our understanding of the land.

Read the Mi’gmaq Creation Story.