June 21, 2022, Whycocomagh, Nova Scotia- As I was finishing up a full and sumptuous breakfast, at Comfort Inn, Fredericton, I got a message to go to the Legislative Assembly House, in the New Brunswick capital’s centre. Not knowing why the message was insistent, I went there after checking out of the motel. I had heard that today was Indigenous Peoples’ Day, as well as Solstice.
There was a modest, but growing crowd, in front of the Assembly House. A leader of the Maliseet Nation, Allan Polchies, gave a direct, though open-hearted invitation to the Premier of New Brunswick to re-instate the terms “unceded and unsurrendered” into Truth and Reconciliation documents, especially those dealing with the revelations of abuse and neglect at Boarding Schools and Day Schools for First Nations children, across the Dominion of Canada (as well as in the United States), over the past 150 years. My take: No matter what the relationship between people, there is always room for improvement. This is especially true of ties between people of different cultural and ethnic groups. No one can truthfully say: “I’ve done enough already. Put it to rest!”
I took in a bit of the scene around Fredericton, underscoring what Chief Polchies was stressing in his talk. The land, the water, and all forms of life are more sacred to a good many First Nations people than they are to those who have a transactional view of this life. I am a mutt, so to speak, and can’t boast physical lineage that leaves me with more than 1/64 First Nations blood. Quantum, though, does not have anything to do with genetic memory, and my bent has always gravitated towards forests, nature, even flowing water.
Here is a view of the St. John River, flowing through Fredericton.
Below, are some scenes from Wilmot Park, west of the Town Plat.
Next on the itinerary was Shediac, a town on the east coast of New Brunswick, from whence my paternal grandfather’s Acadian forebears moved to Lynn, MA, when that city first became industrialized, in the mid-Nineteenth Century.
Here a few Shediac scenes. The town is a vibrant summer getaway, for both urban New Brunswickers and people from Montreal and Quebec City.
Pascal Poirier was a Shediac native, who was Canada’s longest-serving Senator, putting in 48 years, 6 months and 17 days. He was a scholar of Acadian history, putting to rest many myths about his native ethnic group.
As I sat on a lone park bench, watching the gulls and a small amount of marine activity, it occurred to me that the sea will not be far from my awareness, for the next eight days. With that, I got a couple of dozen gluten-free cookies, from Culinanny Bakery, in Shediac’s Centre-Ville Mall, to hopefully give to friends in Cape Breton, and headed off to that storied island.
I had a couple of small surprises, along the way. The Cobequid Valley, of western Nova Scotia, has a toll road, operated by the Provincial Transportation Authority. It’s the only non-bridge toll that I’ve seen in Canada, thus far. A young man walked out of a donut shop, barefoot. I have not seen “no shoes” get service in a food shop, until today.
A far more pleasant surprise awaited in the small village of Whycocomagh, one of the first communities one encounters on Cape Breton, approaching from the west. Bayside Restaurant offers some of the most delectable seafood chowder I’ve ever tasted, anywhere. Essentially, generous portions of fish and assorted shellfish, milk and onions-no potatoes. The other ingredients are Chef Charlene’s secret. My lodging for tonight and tomorrow night is equally superb: Fair Isle Motel, with a large kitchenette as well as firm, chiropractor-approved mattresses. The hosts are a wonderful family of seven.
Tomorrow, I will experience the Cabot Trail-at least the automotive part, and hopefully meet up with some local Baha’is.