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Canadian Campus Newswire


November 20, 2006

Source: University of New Brunswick - Fredericton

An historic agreement will advance knowledge of the oldest inhabited village in New Brunswick, Metepenagiag. This First Nation community is located at the confluence of the Northwest and the Little Southwest Miramichi rivers in northeastern New Brunswick.

Metepenagiag Mi'kmaq Nation and Metepenagiag Heritage Park Inc. signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of New Brunswick Nov. 20.

"This is the first time in Atlantic Canada, and possibly in the country, that a First Nation community has signed an agreement with an academic institution," said Madeline Augustine, president of the Metepenagiag Heritage Park Inc. "What really excites me about the partnership is how traditional knowledge and the western science of archaeology are coming together."

The preliminary goal of this partnership is to further research on some of the most significant archaeological sites in Eastern Canada: the Augustine Mound and Oxbow National Historic Sites. These sites, which are the centerpieces of a proposed heritage park, are exceptional sources of information about ancient Mi'kmaq people and their customs.

"Over 30 years ago, my grandfather, the late Joseph Augustine rediscovered these two very sacred and important heritage sites in our community," said Noah Augustine, chief of the Metepenagiag Mi'kmaq Nation. "He knew of these sites from stories passed down to him from his grandfather. He recognized immediately the need to involve others, to find like-minded partners who shared an interest in the protection, preservation and presentation of Mi'kmaq cultural resources and heritage in New Brunswick."

Under the agreement, UNB anthropologist Susan Blair will work with the Metepenagiag community to continue their research on the archaeological heritage of the Metepenagiag Mi’kmaq Nation.

"I know our Elders are proud to see the work that they have contributed to the project from the beginning take another step forward," said Ms. Augustine.

Community members, and UNB graduate and undergraduate students will be involved in the research, and the university’s archaeology lab in Fredericton will be upgraded to support the project.

"I believe the roots of a strong institution lie in its community," said John McLaughlin, president of UNB. "Metepenagiag’s willingness to allow us to share their principles of protection, preservation and presentation is a precious and important indication of their confidence in us. We look forward to a very productive partnership to which each of us can contribute and from which each of us can benefit."

The new partnership, which coincides with the 40th anniversary of the anthropology department at UNB, has the potential for long-term collaboration between UNB and the Metepenagiag Mi'kmaq Nation. With the opening of the Heritage Park in June 2007, Metepenagiag Mi'kmaq Nation will lead the way in community-driven cultural resource management. The park will be a world-class cultural tourism facility which is expected to attract upwards of 25,000 visitors annually.

In the longer term, Metepenagiag Heritage Park Inc. is positioning itself as an educational and research facility for northeastern New Brunswick, and Atlantic Canada.

"Today’s partnership will lead to future collaborations with UNB graduate students and researchers," said Dr. McLaughlin. "There is also an opportunity for UNB to play a supporting role as the facility develops educational opportunities for people in the Metepenagiag community and for all New Brunswickers."

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Sandra Howland, Public Relations Officer (506) 458-7968



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