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Archaeologist finds signs suggestive of burial grounds by effluent spill in Pictou Landing

Spiritual, local, elders ask for minimum four day clean and sober crew before proceeding

by Miles Howe

Dorene Bernard, Don Brooks (firekeeper) and Maurina Beadle. [Photo: Miles Howe]
Dorene Bernard, Don Brooks (firekeeper) and Maurina Beadle. [Photo: Miles Howe]

Pik'tuk (Pictou Landing), Nova Scotia – An archaeologist in the employ of the Mi'kmaq Rights Initiative (KMKNO) today with relative certainty confirmed that Tuesday, June 11th's effluent spill was in the direct environs of a Mi'kmaq burial grounds.

Mi'kmaq spiritual elder Dorene Bernard and Pictou Landing elder Maurina Beadle have requested that any future archaeological dig teams in the employ of the KMKNO or otherwise at the very least respect traditional spiritual practices and remain free from the influence of drugs and alcohol before undertaking any further plotting of the area.

“Anybody that's coming into this sacred land here, where there's burial remains, [we ask] that they refrain from drinking and drugs for at least four days before they come in and touch anything sacred or they go in to the grounds,” says Bernard, from Shubenacadie First Nation. “And that's just out of respect for the ancestors and these are our ways so we ask them to respect the ways of our ancestors as well.”

It remains unclear whether the effluent spill itself, which has covered a sizeable area with a deep layer of muddy sediment, has either washed away or is covering grave sites or other remnants of a shore-line settlement.

Beadle, herself embattled in the ongoing federal appeals against her receiving funding under the Jordan's Principle for her son Jeremy, concurs with Bernard.

“I would feel offended,” says Beadle. “What are you doing stomping on my grounds? That would be my first question.

“What happened earlier today is that we asked the Chief [Paul of Pictou Landing] and the archaeologist whether they had been on drugs and alcohol during the previous [four days],” says Beadle. “They did confirm that they had been drinking the night before. So when they confirmed that we said 'We can't let you come in.' And without trying to offend anyone or hurt anyone's feelings in any way...you have to be clean and sober before coming onto these grounds.”

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