Degree conferred: Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.)
Orator: Davies, Gwendolyn
ENCAENIA, MAY, 2010
to be Doctor of Letters
Over 3000 years ago, Mi’kmaq people established a village at the juncture of the Little Southwest-Northwest Miramichi Rivers in northeastern New Brunswick. Called Metepenagiag (sometimes Red Bank), it depended economically on the forests, rivers, and trade. In 1972, Joseph Mike Augustine, a Metepenagiag Elder, read an article about the discovery of an ancient mound in Arizona. It triggered his memory of visiting a similar site near Metepenagiag years before, and, taking his shovel, he began digging. The result, as his daughter, Madeline Augustine, has recalled, was breathtaking. He returned home, spread newspapers on the table, and emptied his knapsack of arrow heads, leather cords, and necklaces.
Accompanying her father to the mound the next day, Madeline Augustine began the journey to what has become one of the most extraordinary archaeological stories of recent Canadian history. In 1975 and 1980 respectively, the National Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada declared the Augustine Mound (as her father’s discovery came to be known), and the 3000-year old village of Oxbow, as National Historic Sites because of their insights into Mi’kmaq spirituality and Adena traditions in eastern North America.
From the beginning, Madeline Augustine has been intimately involved in working with the Metepenagiag community in preserving and interpreting both the Augustine mound and subsequent archaeological sites. As an archaeological field worker in the 1970s, she herself discovered new locations and trained successive generations in field techniques. During those years, Madeline Augustine also spearheaded the Red Bank History Project, recording aboriginal community history by taping stories, collecting old photographs, and recording Elders. Frequently interviewed by the media, she has participated in exhibitions about Metepenagiag and has assisted in two film productions. She is president of the Metepenagiag Heritage Park, opened in 2007, to educate the public about the community’s 3000 years of cultural and spiritual history.
Throughout her years as Elder and spokesperson for Mi’kmaq heritage, Madeline Augustine has also been a Community Health Representative. A graduate of both St. Francis Xavier and Dalhousie Universities, she received awards in 2005-2006 for contributions to the health of First Nations communities in Atlantic Canada. But, always, her dedication to the preservation of the history of the Metepenagiag Mi’kmaq Nation has remained central.
Awarded a Certificate of Distinction by the Association of New Brunswick Museums in 2004, she was a 2006 co-signer of a Memorandum-of -Understanding with UNB to develop collaborative research between the Mi’kmaq and the university on Metepenagiag’s archaeological heritage. “What really excites me about the partnership,” she noted during the signing of the agreement, “is how traditional knowledge and the western science of archaeology are coming together.”
Madeline Augustine is a distinguished New Brunswicker, whose role in the preservation and interpretation of Mi’kmaq community and archaeological history we honour today.
From: Honoris Causa - UA Case 70, Box 4
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