Gespe’gewa’gi : Our District Territory
The Gespe’gewa’gi, which means “last acquired land” is known as the 7th District of the Mi’gma’gi (link to text under). Through the Mi’gmaq language and oral traditions, we can affirm our continuous occupancy and exclusive use of our territory. Our social, political, and economic systems evolved and grew from our relationship with our territory. We have a responsibility to take care of the land, which includes the animals, plants, and all other living things.
Mi’gma’gi : Our National Territory
Our Creation story speaks about the formation of Mi’gma’gi and the creation of the seven districts: Unama’gi, Esge’gewa’gi, Sugapune’gati, Epegwitg aq Pigtu, Gespugwitg, Signigtewa’gi aq Gespe’gewa’gi. The name of each of the seven districts contains sounds and descriptions from the land. The Mi’gmaq language is a vital cord that connects the Mi’gmaq, the land, and our ancestors past, present and yet-to be-born.
The territory of Mi’gma’gi encompasses at least what is today known as Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, the Gaspé Peninsula and 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. Mi’gma’gi includes not only these land areas, but also the waters, islands, air and resources of and around them.
The map of Gespe’gewa’gi delineates the accepted boundaries of the Seventh District. Also shown is a secondary claim area on which further research is being prepared. This map does not limit the Aboriginal, Land Title or Treaty rights of the Gespe’gewa’gi Mi’gmaq to this area.
The Mi’gmaq of Gespe’gewa’gi have political relationships with the other districts, and also with neighbouring Aboriginal nations. Relationships at the district level, and at the Aboriginal nation-to-nation level, entail political rights, responsibilities and obligations, which are maintained through specific processes and protocols. As a result of these processeand protocols, the Mi’gmaq of Gespe’gewa’gi have Aboriginal Rights, Aboriginal Title and Treaty Rights in areas beyond the lands and waters of the Seventh District.
Despite the years of colonial dominance, settler encroachments on our lands and imposed Euro-Canadian belief systems, there continues to be a distinct Mi’gmaq perspective and relationship with the territory that is based on the principles of consensus-building, reciprocity, balance and change. Furthermore, our perspective of our territory is informed by the firm belief that we, the Mi’gmaq, have continuous rights, responsibilities and title to the land, which stem from our relationship with all of Creation. Our rights and responsibilities are encoded in our language, oral traditions, political processes and protocols. (Nm’tginen P. 53)