Hundreds of Mi’kmaq artifacts gifted to Mount Allison University 64 years ago have been returned home.
Ceremonies were held on Monday afternoon as they were brought to Membertou First Nation.
Indigenous Affairs Coordinator Patty Quinn-Musgrave says they were gifted to the school after Alumni Clara Dennis passed away.
“Originally from Truro, she was the daughter of Senator William Dennis, who died in 1920,” Quinn-Musgrave told Acadia News. “She went to Mount Allison’s Ladies College and she graduated in 1904. She was one of the very first women to graduate from the University in Sackville. She was a journalist and a photographer and really amazing woman. And she collected these artifacts over her life and she was very particular about them. When she passed away, because she was a Mount A alumni, her brother decided that because she had died without a will, she would want the university to have them.”
Many of the 250 artifacts are from the lithic period, including arrowheads with the tips broken off, fossilized items, tools, beadwork, pipes, pipe stems, and pottery.
Quinn-Musgrave added, “These are really meaningful items to the Mi’kmaq people and we’re really grateful to take them home. A lot of these items were located and documented as coming from the Ingonish area. So that would be along the Cabot Trail. And that’s a significant part of Unama’ki(Cape Breton).”
The return home has been ongoing since before the pandemic.
COVID-19 restrictions previously prevented Quinn-Musgrave and others from crossing the border into Nova Scotia.
Quinn-Musgrave concluded, “These items have a spirit of their own. They were crafted by the hands of the Mi’kmaq people. Mi’kmaq DNA is in these tools and arrowheads and artifacts and for us, and we’re very grateful that they finally get to go back home.”