Mi'kmaq on P.E.I. look to 'reset tone' of renovated Province House

Lennox Island First Nation Chief Darlene Bernard says she was moved by the spirit of collaboration at Province House on Wednesday. (Steve Bruce/CBC - image credit)
Lennox Island First Nation Chief Darlene Bernard says she was moved by the spirit of collaboration at Province House on Wednesday. (Steve Bruce/CBC - image credit)

Mi'kmaq on P.E.I. held a smudging ceremony and left sacred items inside the walls of Province House on Tuesday to mark a "fresh, new history" with the historical site.

The event left many feeling emotional, including Lennox Island First Nation Chief Darlene Bernard.

"I was just so moved by it," she said.

"The messaging was very positive in how we can work collaboratively, together, we can make a difference and we can do better and that's what touched me so much."

Bernard said the time was right for a new beginning.

Steve Bruce/CBC
Steve Bruce/CBC

Province House, the Charlottetown building where the P.E.I. Legislature has sat since 1847, has been undergoing a $91.8-million restoration for the past eight years.

On Tuesday, a handwoven basket — made by Keptin James Bernard and blessed by a Mi'kmaw elder — was filled with sacred medicine and placed within the renovated walls where it will remain forever.

It was really about being included, because we weren't included before. — Lennox Island First Nation Chief Darlene Bernard

""It was really about being included, because we weren't included before. We have absolutely no connection to that historical site, None. So now we are starting off fresh," Bernard said.

"What we're looking to do is reset the tone of the historical site."

Steve Bruce/CBC
Steve Bruce/CBC

The Mi'kmaq have a rich history, culture and language that they want to share with all of P.E.I., she said, and the "spirit of collaboration" with the provincial government makes her proud and optimistic.

"A hundred years from now people will look back and say you know, those leaders, they were friggin' doers. They got things done. We are moving forward."