Travellers arriving at Halifax Stanfield International Airport this summer will know they have arrived in Miꞌkmaꞌki, the traditional lands of the Mi’kmaq people.
The Halifax International Airport Authority (HIAA) has partnered with Canoe ’22 and the 2023 North American Indigenous Games on the installation of a 19-foot Mi’kmaq canoe that will be on display at the airport.
The canoe was unveiled on National Indigenous Peoples Day on Tuesday (June 21).
In a news release, Joyce Carter, president and CEO of HIAA, said the airport was “honoured” to join partners to celebrate the arrival of “this beautiful canoe.”
“Being the first location in Nova Scotia to have this canoe on display is a privilege,” Carter said. “We are so pleased to share this significant part of Mi’kmaq history and culture with travellers visiting or coming home to Nova Scotia.”
The canoe, built by Todd Labrador, Melissa Labrador, and family in 2019, is made of birchbark, black spruce, eastern white cedar, and other materials.
The Mi’kmaq regularly travelled great distances along the waterways of the Maritimes, and they depended on the canoes built by skilled artisans for transportation.
“It’s exciting to know that this beautiful display of culture and heritage will be one of the first things over 1000 athletes see when they arrive in K’jipuktuk for the ICF Canoe Sprint and Paracanoe World Championships. We’re honoured to have the opportunity to bring culture, historical education and awareness, and celebratory programming as part of Canoe ’22,” said Jill D’Alessio, chair, Canoe ’22 Board of Directors.
Fiona Kirkpatrick Parsons, chair of the 2023 North American Indigenous Games, added: “In just over a year, Kjipuktuk (Halifax) and Millbrook First Nation will welcome more than 5,000 Indigenous youth representing more than 756 nations from across Turtle Island (North America) to this region.”
“We thank Halifax Stanfield International Airport for understanding and supporting our vision to ensure all visitors, including Games participants, feel this warm welcome from the Mi’kmaq people the moment they arrive.”
Carter noted the importance of strengthening Indigenous connections and creating a more equitable and inclusive airport and region.
“Our sincere appreciation to all partners involved in bringing the canoe to our airport, where thousands of people from all over the world will have the opportunity to learn more about traditional ways the Mi’kmaq travelled, as excitement builds for the upcoming games,” said Carter.
The canoe is displayed inside the Halifax Stanfield terminal building on the centre baggage carousel for domestic arrivals.
It will remain at the airport for several months and then be moved to other locations around Kjipuktuk until the 2023 North American Indigenous Games, which are taking place July 15 to 23, 2023.