This project by the Senior Seminar in Journalism at St. Thomas University began in response to the calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission directed at journalism programs in Canadian universities. The TRC recognized that professional journalists will play a key role in the process of reconciliation and called on universities to respond. Among the principles of truth and reconciliation articulated by the TRC are the following:
- All Canadians, as Treaty peoples, share responsibility for establishing and maintaining mutually respectful relationships.
- The perspectives and understandings of Aboriginal Elders and Traditional Knowledge Keepers of the ethics, concepts, and practices of reconciliation are vital to long-term reconciliation.
- Supporting Aboriginal peoples’ cultural revitalization and integrating Indigenous knowledge systems, oral histories, laws, protocols, and connections to the land into the reconciliation process are essential.
- Reconciliation requires sustained public education and dialogue, including youth engagement, about the history and legacy of residential schools, Treaties, and Aboriginal rights, as well as the historical and contemporary contributions of Aboriginal peoples to Canadian society.
This project has been guided by these principles. Our first semester was spent exploring the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and searching for stories that would expand our understanding in particular of the Wolastoqiyik communities that surround the greater Fredericton region.
This exploration unearthed a document entitled “Wolastoqiyik Ajemseg: The People of the Beautiful River at Jemseg” and the story of the Jemseg River Crossing archaeological project in 1996. That story connected to the story of the proposed Sisson Mine.
The story is told in seven chapters, in two short documentaries, and in the voices of ancestors.
The team that created this project extended beyond St. Thomas University. Special thanks to University of New Brunswick professors Susan Blair and Ramona Nicholas, Kingsclear First Nation councillor Patrick Polchies, and former director of New Brunswick Archaeological Services Chris Turnbull. Imelda Perley, elder-in-residence, and Dave Perley, director, at the Mi’kmaq-Wolastoqey Centre at UNB, provided narration for the videos and much more in the way of encouragement, guidance and support. Thanks also to Austin Paul for his inspiration and generosity. The New Brunswick Provincial Archives and the University of New Brunswick Archives and Special Collections were most helpful in providing photographs from their collections.