Passing down traditional knowledge: Mi’kmaq elder to build wigwam at National Historic site in PEI


Brenlee Brothers

March 30, 2017

Todd Labrador grew up surrounded by nature, hearing stories from his father who was the first chief of the Acadia First nation.

“My father and great grandfather had great respect for our Mi’kmaq culture and for mother earth and all her inhabitants.”

Labrador takes after his great grandfather, as an expert and tradition bearer in building birch bark canoes.

This July, Labrador will come to P.E.I. to build a birch bark wigwam – similar to a tepee – at Port-la-Joye-Fort Amherst National Historic Site.

The site has a rich history of French, Acadian, British and Mi’kmaq peoples.

Labrador will pass down traditional knowledge by mentoring a Mi’kmaq elder and youth while the wigwam is built.

Jesse Francis is the joint project manager at Mi’kmaq Confederacy of P.E.I.

“We’re formalizing the arrangement with Todd Labrador for the summer and that sort of thing.”

The exact schedule is to be determined, but it will happen over four or five days in July, Francis said.

“They’ll then use the campsite that is created to develop and present activities about Mi’kmaq history on P.E.I.”

Ocel Dauphinais manages the historic sites at Parks Canada in P.E.I.

The Fort Amherst site is one of the lesser-frequented on the Island, but the history there is a big draw, said Dauphinais.

“It’s a great spot for going out for a picnic.”

There are lots of areas with shade and it’s a beautiful view onto the Charlottetown Harbour, he said.

“The viewscapes are quite impressive.”

Building the wigwam will be a great way to interact with the public and share knowledge with visitors coming to the site, Dauphinais said.