Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
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An evolving landmark

Image of the famous statue found close to the Glooscap Heritage Centre and Museum in Nova Scotia
When the world comes to visit Nova Scotia, travelers on Highway 102 are greeted by a regal, 40-foot giant with unmistakable eagle feathers — an impressive landmark bidding their arrival into Glooscap country. 
 
But these days, as it continues to celebrate the first human of Mi’kmaq legend, the mythical icon at the side of the road is taking on new life as a harbinger for the preservation of First Nations history, culture and language.  

Alongside the famous statue, Joyce Mingo and her 12 colleagues at the Glooscap Heritage Centre and Museum — a facility complete with visitor information centre, gallery, gift shop, 100-seat theatre, office space and meeting rooms — are preparing for another day of scheduled events in their busy summer tourism season.  

It’s all part of their ongoing work to integrate the development of tourism trade with the preservation of language and stories from their Millbrook First Nation community.
 
Today’s story demonstration features some especially cutting-edge technology.
 
“The Phraselator is a hand-held machine that is programmed into a computer,” explains Joyce, executive director for the Centre which first opened in 2006.  

“An elder can speak into the machine in their own language — it translates the words into English and can upload the stories onto our website so everyone can share them. It’s a powerful tool for preserving the Mi’kmaq culture and language.”  

But in looking around the Centre, it’s clear that technology is not the only popular thing on offer here.  

Activities like the more than 50 workshops they hold each year, the bus tours and educators’ events they host for celebrations like National Aboriginal Day and Earth Day, not to mention the various cultural programs, skill development courses and computer labs they deliver at their learning centre.  

According to Joyce, assistance from ACOA has helped ensure the hosting of activities and services at the Glooscap Centre.  

“ACOA’s support has been important to the Centre’s evolution and to the local Mi’kmaw community,” she says.  

As for the future, Joyce happily reports: there is room to grow.  

“Right now, we’re expanding our entertainment options to include a theatre. We also have implemented sessions where visitors can make their own journey stones, talking sticks or dream catchers.”  

And, with some help from ACOA, they’ve also created an indigenous garden on the aboriginal land surrounding the Centre, including an outdoor tourism kiosk.  

It’s just one more reason for this community to be excited about the future as they work to preserve the past.    

Published October 14, 2011