Nearly a year has gone by since the Mi'kmawey Debert Interpretive Trail was shut down in the aftermath of post-tropical storm Fiona.
The trail suffered significant damage and was deemed unsafe for the public.
The provincial government recently announced $50,000 in upgrades for the 4.4-kilometre trail. In October, the centre will mark 20 years since the trail was designed and built.
"It made us feel very satisfied that something we've loved and cared for shows that people see the value of that and they're willing to put resources necessary," said Tim Bernard, executive director of the Mi'kmawey Debert Cultural Centre.
Bernard said the centre hasn't made a funding request in its two decades. The government granted the funds after learning about the storm damage.
The provincial government recently announced $50,000 in upgrades for the 4.4-kilometre trail. In October, the Mi'kmawey Debert Cultural Centre will mark 20 years since the trail was designed and built. (Tim Bernard)
"For me, that showed the importance of building relationships with the government where 20 years ago, we probably wouldn't have gotten this type of funding," he said.
Fiona a catalyst for restoration
Bernard said restoration of the trail was already in discussion prior to Fiona's arrival, but the storm was the catalyst to start the process.
He said the site is unique and this is a positive step in improving Mi'kmaw relations with governments.
"Since the [Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada] put those recommendations down, I'm sure every level of government is seeing how they can better respond to the community and then building relationships," he said.
When talking about the trail, Bernard reflected on Steven (Flash) Julian, a man from Sipekne'katik First Nation. Julian, who died in 2022, dedicated his life to taking care of the trail and would've loved to see the restoration.
Julian's son, Keith, talked about the trail and new funding would have meant to him.
'That trail was his baby'
"He definitely would have been overjoyed just knowing that the trail was in need of substantial funding to help get it opened up again," said Keith Julian, Steven's son.
Keith vividly remembers the construction of the trail. His father participated in the construction and always maintained and cared for the area. He said even if there was no funding, his father would be out there working in the early morning.
Steven Julian, left, worked tirelessly on the Mi'kmawey Debert Interpretive Trail. He died in 2022. The trail is being restored after it was badly damaged in last year's post-tropical storm Fiona. (Tim Bernard)
"That trail was his baby. I mean, whenever a storm went by, the first thing that was on his mind was to watch the trail, get his gear on and clean it up."
Bernard said he still feels Steven Julian's absence at the cultural centre.
A great legacy
"He was truly a jack of all trades," he said. "He could build you anything you need and move trees twice the size of him. He'd have it all done by noon."
Bernard said Julian's legacy and presence will continue to be felt out on the trail.
"As Indigenous people we have a responsibility to this land and we need to make sure we continue to take care of it," Bernard said. "That was Steve's way of practising that and taking care of this particular parcel of land and ancestral site."
The trail is expected to be open to the public in late October or early November.
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