Becoming a "Kiju" in the Mi'kmaq World is truly a blessing. I became a Kiju at an early age and was overwhelmed by this new stature in our matriarchal society. It's a multi-facet role that is bestowed by colossal commitments in the Mi'kmaq family unit. A Kiju has the responsibility to oversee the family and the extended family, to be strong as Mi'kmaq. She becomes the backbone and enshrouds her powerful persona within her family unit. She provides nothing but "ultimate sacrifices and unconditional love" for her grandchildren who will continue to unfold her life. I have five precious grandchildren who are truly my fountain of youth. I have a unique relationship with each grandchild and I am bonded by the secrets we possess in each relationship.
I end up doing outrageous things like looking for snakes in a swamp, belly dancing on my coffee table ro sacrificing my huge towel during a hot smoldering sweat.
My personal gratification is, the wondrous sound of a child's uncontrollable laughter, the sparkle in their little eyes, the spontaneous hugs and endless kisses.
I dedicate this wonderful book to every Kiju and their many grandchildren. May you find nothing but fulfillment in this prestigious position in our matriarchal society.
I wish to acknowledge the following for making this book possible:
First and foremost, the funding source - the Department of Canadian Heritage with the Aboriginal Languages Initiative, Assembly of First Nations, which was contracted to distribute the monies fairly and equitably;
Mi'kmaq Kina'matnewey, selected by AFN to collect and evaluate the language proposals with a selection Committee representing all Bands;
Millbrook Band Chief & Council for their continued support in language revival and retention, namely, Alex Cope, for his grand endeavour of building a better Millbrook for our Mi'kmaq;
My two Elders, who tend to guide me, Dianna Denny and Murdena Marshall; and
Finally, I wish to personally thank my precious "Jijipu'j" who did the exquisite, exuberant and extra meaningful sketches of my grandson and I.
Patsy Paul-Martin is a Mi'kmaq woman who was born and raised in Eskasoni in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. She takes pride from the fact that she comes from a large family unit. She has countless relatives who constantly drop in for a visit. She reads, writes and speaks her sacred Mi'kmaw language and tries desperately to revive it, in the mainland area. She truly believes that education is a never-ending process and that we learn continuously from each other, everyday. Through her dogged determination, she has acquired her education and has a Masters degree in Education specializing in the administrative stream. Her three mentors are: the beloved Mothers; a cherished Father, whom all lovingly installed wonderful virtues; and everlasting memories during her upbringing.
She is married to the same guy who swept her off her beloved Reserve and captivated her to reside at his home Rez, Millbrook, where they raised their four children. The greatest accomplishment in her life is: her five grandchildren whom she dotes on and caters to. Over the past two years, Patsy has found the rejuvenation technique of traditional sweats with her three daughters and granddaughters at various places. She works as the Director of the Millbrook Literacy Centre and part-time as an Associate Professor at St. F.X. University. Her ultimate philosophy in life is: In pursuit of wisdom from our respected Elders and to promote her Mi'kmaq heritage to the fullest capacity. Her grandfather was the Grand Chief, Gabriel "Muin/Bear" Sylliboy from Eskasoni and uses the Muin as a powerful symbol of strength incorporated in her work.
Melody Jasmine Martin is the second oldest daughter of Barry and Patsy Paul-Martin. She is multi-talented and is immersed in maintaining her Mi'kmaw language with her colleagues. She has the gift of whipping up detailed drawings freehand. The book is based on her little four year old Apistanewji'j and his Kiju. She has an unique sense of style when it comes to illustrations. Melody is a student at the St. F.X. University in the B.Ed program and wishes to pursue her teaching career. She loves to travel, read, bake and spend all of her quality time with Brennan and Big Betcha. Together, with Arthur Stevens, Graphic Designer of Eastern Woodland Publishing, Melody's sketches were given a colourful digital life.
[Help Desk Home] [Aboriginal Language Home]
Copyright © Patsy Paul-Martin 2001-2002. Used with permission.
Written and Narrated by Patsy Paul-Martin, Illustrations by Melody Martin.
Originally Published by Eastern Woodland Publishing, Truro, NS.
Web version prepared by Atlantic Canada's First Nation Help Desk.