Monday, April 2, 2012

27 - Kwe!

Kwe! (Hello) I hope that you are all still out there and that this very short post will let you all know that I am still here and on the trail. I am looking forward to another great year discovering Mi'kmaq culture. The Powwow lists are out and I can't wait to learn more.

This winter was relatively quiet, but I did take in some great museum displays, did a lot of reading, and managed to find a cultural group where I am starting to learn a bit of the Mi'kmaq language and songs. It pays to be persistent. It took me eight months to find them, but I did! I will write about all of it and fill you in with coming posts.

Tonight's post is short, but last summer I heard a short story that I want to share. It came from my father's first cousin, who is a Campbell from Pictou Landing. It was passed to him many years ago by Raymond Francis, who was the former chief of the Pictou Landing band and a friend to my father and his brothers growing up.

Each year when I go home in the summer, I love to hear the stories that this cousin tells about this small community. He usually leaves us in a state with our bellies sore from laughing and our faces stiff from smiling so much. It's wonderful. Every so often, one story gets in among them that makes us all pause and breathe for a few minutes. This small story was one of them and one that I had never heard.

Kate Campbell (far left) in Pictou Landing on the homestead.
He told us that day that my great great grandmother, Kate Campbell once had a job with Indian Affairs. The reservation at Pictou Landing is relatively small and Kate's job was to distribute rations of food to the local Mi'kmaq according to agreements between the Mi'kmaq and the government. Butter and eggs were mentioned, but there may have been other provisions as well.

One summer, there were larger than normal numbers of babies born on the reservation. Kate saw that the families didn't have enough to eat, so she provided more of the rations than she was supposed to give. Raymond Francis told my father's cousin that the people she helped never forgot her kindness to them and spoke of it for years to come. Kate Campbell was fired from her job with Indian affairs for this very act. Sadly, I was not surprised.

I found two pictures of Kate while searching through some old family photos.  Stay tuned for more adventures!

Neil Campbell, Kate Campbell (holding child). 

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