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Schools across P.E.I. singing national anthem in Mi’kmaq

This screengrab from Periscope Picture’s video, “Oh Kanata”, shows children from Mount Stewart Consolidated School recording a Mi’kmaq version of O Canada at Dunk River Sound Studio.
This screengrab from Periscope Picture’s video, “Oh Kanata”, shows children from Mount Stewart Consolidated School recording a Mi’kmaq version of O Canada at Dunk River Sound Studio. - computer screenshot

Watch Periscope Picture’s nine-minute video, “Oh Kanata,” here:

The Mi’kmaq version of the Canadian national anthem is being sung by Island children in schools across the province.

It’s a poignant example of reconciliation efforts and one which Island filmmaker Harmony Wagner chose to document.

Wagner, along with her Periscope Pictures partner, Jason Rogerson, wanted to do something meaningful after hearing about the federal government’s National Commission on Truth and Reconciliation report on Canada’s dark history with residential schools.

So, along with P.E.I. singer/songwriters Tara MacLean and Catherine MacLellan, she visited Senator Brian Francis at the Abegweit Mi’kmaq Nation at Scotchfort to ask how they could contribute toward the momentum of reconciliation.

The chief told them that in the eyes of the Mi’kmaq, it is a process that will take generations to heal. For this reason, children are the best investment to create real change.

MacLean and MacLellan offered mixing, mastering and the use of MacLellan’s and Chris Gauthier’s Dunk River Sound studio to make a professional recording of the national anthem in P.E.I.’s first spoken language. Since Wagner and Rogerson had been offered provincial government support to produce a short documentary, she knew exactly what to do — document this example of true reconciliation.

Rogerson felt film was the perfect medium to tell the story.

On Jan. 6, 2018, the students from Mount Stewart Consolidated School sang the national anthem in Mi’kmaq at the Island Storm basketball game in Charlottetown. On June 21, 2018, National Indigenous People’s Day, schools across P.E.I. started their morning with the recording and many schools continue to play it on a regular basis.

The nine-minute film, entitled “Oh Kanata”, is a call to action for educators and parents to download the recording so that any school in Canada can listen to the anthem in Mi’kmaq in the daily morning rotation as a way of making steps along the road to reconciliation.

Free copies of the recording can be downloaded from the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of P.E.I.

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