CORNER BROOK — There are a lot of meals taking place during Corner Brook Winter Carnival so Michelle Matthews figured it was the perfect time for the Corner Brook Aboriginal Women’s Association to hold its winter feast.
On Saturday the group gathered at the VON Building on Wellington Street to celebrate its Apuknajit friendship pow wow and winter feast.
Apuknajit refers to the month of February, the snow blinding month.
Close to 30 people participated in the event which included a smudging ceremony, singing of traditional Mi’kmaq songs and the feast.
Matthews is the president of the association, and said holding the feast during carnival gave the group the opportunity to reach more people.
“We’re trying to revive our culture and this is one way we figured we can get out to the public,” she said.
Matthews said people are often nervous about identifying themselves with their culture. She said there are between 50,000 and 60,000 people in the Bay of Islands who are Mi’kmaq and the association wants to reach out to them.
“Most of the people are not aware of their culture, they know they’re Mi’kmaq, but they don’t know anything about their culture,” Matthews said.
For some she says the fact they were aboriginal was often denied or hidden.
Matthews, a teacher, has been with the association for about 10 years and only found out about her heritage because of a Heritage Fair project one of her students worked on about 13 years ago.
In it the boy identified Matthew’s great-great-great-grandparents as being Mi’kmaq.
The finding both shocked and thrilled her.
Shock because she never found the connection herself in all her own years of research, cultural study and teaching and thrill because it filled in missing pieces for her.
“It makes sense, stuff didn’t make sense before,” she said. “Somehow you knew something was missing, and this just balanced everything out, it just makes sense.”
Matthews feels a strong connection to her culture and wants to do everything she can to promote it and to share it with her fellow Mi’kmaq.
“Now I want everybody in the world to know what they’ve been missing as well and to balance that part of their lives out,” she said.