|Bear River First Nations Cultural Centre|
Bear River First Nations has embarked on an ambitious, exciting group of projects based on turning their new community building into a cultural and heritage center which will attract locals and visitors alike, and lead to economic development in the community and the area. The center will become the focal point for not only community recreation and other activities, but also for a number of small, independently run businesses based on cultural and eco-tourism. This will include a heritage display area; hands on workshops teaching traditional Mi’kmaq arts and crafts, such as basket and wooden flower making; demonstrations of drumming, singing, and dancing. Also, historic reenactments; an arts and craft outlet; a café featuring traditional Mi’kmaq fare; and a varity of outdoor workshops and activities, from canoe trips along the river to wilderness hikes and camping in wigwams.
A highlight of these experiences will be guided tours of Npisuneyawti (pronounced N Bee Soun A Ow Dee ch), the community’s Medicine Trail.
The project was developed in 1999 by a group of community volunteers and others who wanted to conserve and communicate traditional Mi’kmaq respect for, and use of, gifts from the Creator, the earth and its plants and trees. The trail is a kilometer and a half of peaceful forest paths, featuring over 80 traditional-use flora identified by hand-painted stone signs. In the past, parts of the trail were used for hunting and later as a logging road. Several special places such as, an old camp and the sacred fire spot are highlighted. A brouchure explains the significance of the various plants, trees, and sites. Npisuneyawti offers an opportunity for Bear River First Nations Community and visitors to reconnect with the spirituality of nature. The project fosters an intimate relationship with nature which the Mi’kmaq have had for thousands of years.
The development of the Bear River First Nations Cultural and Heritage Centre is a process that will take approximately five years to complete. A market feasibility study, completed last summer, was enthusiastic and positive about the potential of the project. The Band, together with a professional consultant, are presently working on the business plan. The immediate objective of the Bear River First Nations is to have training guides available for the trail and a heritage display this summer. With advanced notice, the Center can also arrange day-long Mi’kmaq cultural experiences or tours for visiting groups.
For more information, call the Bear River First Nations Cultural Center at 467-0301