Mi’kmaw Fiddler Joe Marble Plays to St. Anne

A Etuaptmumk Two-Eyed Seeing Pilgrimage
With Elder John R. Prosper and Settler Dorothy A. Lander

Elder John R. Prosper and Settler Dorothy A. Lander invite you to join them on their pilgrimage, which is guided by St. Anne, the patron saint of the Mi’kmaw people.  As St. Anne’s emissary, Mi’kmaw fiddler Joe Marble, a member of Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation in Antigonish County, Mi’kmaki, appeared on Facebook via a 1939 article in the diocesan newspaper The Casket, which traced his life as a virtuoso musician from his childhood in Heatherton.  Sacred timing – the Facebook posting surfaced in the last week of March 2022 just as the delegation of Indigenous Canadians were in Rome demanding an apology from Pope Francis for the role of the Catholic Church in Indian Residential Schools.

Elder John R. Prosper: I encourage anyone interested in life on the Indian Reserve in the early 40’s and 50’s to read this book.  It is my and the Prosper family story of how we survived the hardship and suffering when we were forced to move from Paqtnkek to the Shubenacadie Indian Reserve when the Department of Indian Affairs implemented the Centralization Policy in 1942. It is also the story of how the Dept. of Indian Affairs forced us to attend the Indian Residential School in Shubenacadie.

By way of her own story, Dorothy calls on settlers to own the “truth” of their intergenerational history of white supremacy and colonization. Two-eyed-seeing as a primary resource for settler allies, demands truth before reconciliation. 

Through the lens of Etuaptmumk/Two-Eyed-Seeing, John R. and Dorothy take readers on a journey through the history of Indigenous-Settler relations, spanning Indian Residential Schools, seasonal encampments, the symbolism of the black ash, fiddle music and the art of making fiddles, the Bill Lynch shows, vintage photography, Mi’kmaq in the military, and re-commitment to Peace and Friendship Nation-to-Nation and to Truth and Reconciliation.  St. Anne appears throughout the pilgrimage, closing in the final pages of the book with the procession to St. Anne’s Grotto at Summerside, Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation.

HARP donates 80% of sales of Mi’kmaw Fiddler Plays to St. Anne to the St. Anne’s Church Restoration Fund.  John R. and Dorothy dedicate the book to Elder Ronnie William Julien “Ronnie Moose” (1943 – 2021), a faithful companion on their pilgrimage.

Praise for Mi’kmaw Fiddler Joe Marble Plays to St. Anne

John R or rather Father John as we have come to call him is a respected Elder, Keptin, community archivist, and musician, among many other things.  John R. will give you tea, food, any information you are looking for, and the shirt off his back.  He is a rare find.  He will forget more history than I will ever know. 

The many amazing events and collaborations that John R. and Dorothy describe in this book give me hope. Their pilgrimage gives me hope that we can have truth, reconciliation, openness, understanding and mutual respect in our regular dialogue.

Paula Paul, Land Code Coordinator, Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation, Mi’kmaki/Nova Scotia

Elder Albert Marshall and his late wife, Murdena Marshall, have often described Etuaptmumk or Two-Eyed Seeing as a co-learning journey, whereby distinct perspectives are brought together to formulate a new understanding of the world, something that cannot be understood using a single perspective.  John R. and Dorothy have shown that when differing perspectives come together, we learn to listen and understand one another in respectful and reciprocal ways. Their pilgrimage is a unique gift that has been created by bringing together distinct perspectives on everything from the fiddle to the peony to the black ash. Wela’lin/Nakkumek for allowing us, your readers, to share in your journey. 

Debbie Martin, PhD, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Peoples’
Health & Well-Being, Dalhousie University.  

    

Of the many tragedies associated with residential schools, one that often gets overlooked, is the fact that the colonialists behind the schools looked at sophisticated, learned cultures and—due to their own white supremacy—failed to recognize the genius that existed in the Americas. Etuaptmumk, two-eyed seeing, is an effort to appreciate the value of both western and Indigenous ways of understanding the world, and the interconnectedness of all living things on Mother Earth. It’s a high-minded concept that Elder John Prosper and Dorothy Lander generously embody in their ongoing friendship and work together. Here, they look at seemingly disparate aspects of personal and regional histories and connect them in ways that help us all better understand where we come from, who we are, and how we can more harmoniously, justly and sustainably live together on this planet.

Chris Benjamin, Author, Indian School Road: Legacies of the Shubenacadie Residential School

Joe Marble’s story and the journey its authors traveled in its creation shed light on the ways that two vastly different cultural worlds connected, often without our awareness or acknowledgment. The practice of “two-eyed seeing” provided Nova Scotia’s indigenous peoples with the benefit of viewing the world—and thus learning—from both perspectives. To readers accustomed to analyzing their surroundings through a myopic Eurocentric lens, this narrative reveals its limits in comprehending not only the Mi’kmaw perspective, but also the complex world in which we live.

Bruce MacDonald, Retired Social Studies Teacher, Antigonish, Nova Scotia

Susan Dion, Potawatomi-Lenapé, has said that Settlers in Canada have too often imagined themselves as “perfect stranger[s]” to Indigenous peoples. Settlers have in fact became distanced from Indigenous issues through settlement and integration processes. Nova Scotia is a small province and Mi’kmaw and people of Settler descent are geographically ‘not far’ from each other. And yet through processes of colonization, too many Settlers imagined their relationship with Mi’kmaw people as one of “perfect strangers.” Settlers who were educated in Eurocentric ways of knowing, being, and doing, learned an incomplete and inaccurate history of Canada. They did not learn that as Canadians we are all Treaty People.

Mi’kmaw Fiddler Joe Marble Plays to St. Anne: A Etuaptmumk/Two-Eyed-Seeing Pilgrimage, a collaboration between Elder John R. Prosper and Settler Dorothy A. Lander, will be of benefit to Mi’kmaw and Settler students in this province. Mi’kmaw students will see their experiences and their relations reflected back to them—the hardship and the places of resilience—throughout this book. Settler students will have a window in how processes of colonization, over time, aimed to eclipse Mi’kmaw ways of knowing, being and doing with Eurocentric perspectives. As such the book will provide an important learning resource for Treaty Education in this province.

The book is beautifully created, using its warm narrative and conversational style between the two authors and filled with pictures that provide wonderful windows into the history of Mi’kmaw people in this area of the Nova Scotia. It is a beautiful example of using personal accounts to illustrate larger social and political forces that were shaping Mi’kmaw and Settler communities.

The book is designed to be read slowly and pondered over. It is a gift for educators, students and citizens who are hungry for Mi’kmaw and Settler people to no longer be ‘perfect strangers’ to each other.

Joanne Tompkins, Faculty of Education, St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, Nova Scotia

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