The warm October sun glistened down on a lineup of community members outside of the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre in K’jipuktuk, the original Mi’kmaq name for the city of Halifax.
With welcoming eyes signaling a smile and warm invite from behind a non-medical mask, Debbie Eisan eagerly took a few minutes out of her busy day to discuss how the centre is celebrating Treaty Day.
“Normally, we have everybody coming in, and sitting, and joining us for a dinner but today we’ve decided we’re doing takeout. So, we’re cooking 200 salmon dinners that the community members have signed up for and at 12 o’clock, we’ve got a list of names, and they’re going to come and we’re going to hand out salmon dinners everybody. Free of charge,” Eisan said.
Eisan is the community planner and resident elder at the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre.
She and other members of the centre worked diligently to not only prepare 200 salmon dinners but ensure that they could be delivered to folks safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A change in protocols didn’t phase those who eagerly showed up for an opportunity to be nourished and connect with others.
“It’s good to eat together,” Victor Boulton said, a Dene man who now lives in K’jipuktuk.
Boulton says uniting with people on Treaty Day provides an opportunity for learning and knowledge sharing.
“It feels good when some person thanks us for being here today, to gather, and they want to know more about what we represent as a people, from Canada, and it feels good,” he said.
Eisan opened the traditional salmon dinner by offering a plate to the spirits. She set it on the sidewalk beside the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre and then proceeded to welcome people to enjoy their food in an orderly fashion.
All the while embracing the warm October sun and spirit of her people.
“To have the community here and to be part of this Treaty Day celebrations is tremendous and it swells my heart with pride,” she said.