Thursday, March 17, 2011

3 - Surfacing

From the moment I heard it, I actually felt butterflies. Nervousness. Excitement that I can't explain. My mother said it first, and was so casual about it. After our day of communing with the Mi'kmaq nation and its history, she mentioned casually, in passing, that my uncle William had been communicating with our cousin Kevin in Ontario. "Kevin thinks we're Bras d'Or Indians, but I don't know if I believe it. It's probably not true." she said.

I knew by the feeling in my stomach that it probably was true. My brother was thinking the same thing. Sometimes you just know the truth when you hear it. We ran immediately to the computer and googled "Bras d'Or Indians." What is a Bras d'Or Indian?

We found them. Easily. They have a website. Now there are a few more websites as I write this. It's a testament to secrets that will not be contained any longer. I will get into the history of this community later as a topic in itself, but basically, they were and are Mi'kmaq people who lived in an area of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia on the Bras d'Or Lakes. The place is called Little Bras d'Or. Sometimes it was also referred to as the French Village. Nan, (my grandmother) grew up in Little Bras D'or and her surname was Young. There they were, the Youngs ( or Lejeune in the original French), at the top of the list of the Mi'kmaq families. We went further and read the entire site. We read about the Wigwams on Old Gannon Road in some of the accounts by local people. Nan grew up on the Old Gannon Road. We definitely needed to talk to Kevin.

As I started to write this blog, I wrote to Kevin and asked him how he discovered the connection. This is what he said:

"A good friend of mine heard about a meeting that was held for the Bras d'Or First Nation and she told me that the Youngs were at the top of the list tracing their roots from Pierre Lejeune. I later talked to my sister in law and she told me that she and her children were members of the Bras D'or First Nation, which I knew nothing of at the time. I applied for membership and was accepted. I then decided to make sure that we had proof of our connection, so I started gathering documents. The more documents I found, the more I knew it was true. I decided to start a family tree to share what I had found with the rest of my family. People always made comments about us being Indian, but we always took it as a joke not realizing that we really were native. The more information that I dug up, the more excited I got, not to mention the hurt of not knowing all those years. I lost 57 years of my wonderful heritage. This was the biggest reason for the family tree. To let my children and grandchildren know they are of the Mi'kmaq bloodline."
I would not be writing this blog if Kevin had not done all this work. It is really incredible. He has opened the door to this history for many of us in our family, and it is a very large family. I believe there are over 800 people listed in the tree, at least when I checked last. Many of us are beginning to connect with each other. You can view it if you would like to see it. Some information is restricted to family members, but it is incredible the work that has gone into it. Here is the link:

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