There is an historical island off the Potlotek First Nation in the Bras D'or Lakes. It has been a meeting place for the Mi'kmaq of the maritime provinces since time immemorial. The island has been called by different names. It was called one name by the French and another by the English, but to the Mikmaw it was and still is, simply called, Mniku. (island) It was chosen by Father Maillard missionary, 1735-1762 for his ministry to the Mi'kmaq. He said the first mass on the island on a boulder in 1742. In the early 1750's he was able to build a chapel.
Mniku, the little island is the oldest reserve in what was the colony of Cape Breton island. Mniku became a reserve when Grand Chief Michael Thomas asked for and was granted a land grant in 1792 by the new provincial government. The purpose of the grant was so that a new mission church could be built on the island.
Chapel Island Reserve, Called Barra Head until the name change in 1958 compared to the historic island, is relatively new. It was given it's land grant in 1834.
There has been an annual mission on Chapel Island (mniku since 1742, making it the longest continuous mission in Canada. The Present church on the island is the sixth church, the fifth one burned down on December 11, 1976.
Pow wow is a tribal gathering to renew social and spiritual ties. Great respect is shown to the drum at a gathering. Tobacco is offered to the spirits called by the drum and to the spirit of the drum itself. Songs to the beats of the drum have the power to unite people. There are festive dances, dances of war and conquest, honor and family. joy and mourning.
The community has a big role in the organization of a pow wow. There are strict rules. For example, liquor or drugs are not allowed in the pow wow grounds. There are security people working around the clock to make sure that rules casino online are followed. A sacred fire is lit at the beginning of the pow wow and is not permitted to go out until the pow wow is over. Firekeepers take turns watching the fire to make sure it doesn't go out. Some communities provide booths, tents or canopies for the sellers.
It is the community's responsibility to provide breakfast and an evening feast every evening of the pow wow. A give-away is held at the end of the pow wow. The first pow wow in Chapel Island was held in 1993. It was organized by George Marshall. It has been held annually ever since. It starts on the third Friday of July and ends the following Monday.
Feast (Wi'kapaltimk Aqtapuk) is an ancient Mi'kmaw Feast. It was celebrated shortly after the first new moon of Punamuiku's(January) Mid-winter was the end of the year and the start of the new ceremonial year for the ancient Mi'kmaq.
The Mid-winter Feast purpose was the presentation of thanksgiving to all the spiritual forces, especially to the Great spirit, for the blessings of life, health, and sustenance and the privilages of social life." Our ancestors had elaborate celebrations and this being their main one, it was most likely celebrated by speeches, dances rituals and fasting.
The Mid-winter feast was re-newed by Lillian B. Marshall in Chapel Island in 1989 as a result of supporting and showing our appreciation for our hunters who risked prosecution by joining the illegal moose hunt in the Cape Breton Highlands on September 17, 1988 that was staged by the Union of Nova Scotia Indians. The Union was protesting the lack of government action in settling treaty rights disputes, claiming a right to do so under the treaty of 1752.
The Feast has continued to the present day. It consists of a one day thanksgiving celebration with mass at the Chapel and a big meal with traditional mi'kmaw food and entertainment afterwards. It's held on a Sunday following the first new moon of January.