A photo has been the only image of Mi’kmaw regalia on display at the Millbrook Cultural and Heritage Centre in Millbrook, N.S.
Because after 130 years, the real regalia is being returned to Canada from an Australian museum.
“It’s been a very long time that I was working on this,” said centre manager Heather Stevens, “so bringing it home has been a long journey.”
Stevens is flying to a Melbourne museum next week to pick up the robe that was made by a Mi’kmaw woman from the Millbrook [Sipekne’katik] First Nation during the 1840s.
The item was commissioned by Samuel Huyghue, a Canadian civil servant, who died in Australia in 1891. He left the regalia to Museums Victoria.
“A lot of our artifacts are actually stored in drawers that nobody is able to see, and that’s not what our ancestors would have wanted,” said Stevens.
Once at home, the regalia will be protected as well as in any museum.
“It is an understatement for the Mi’kmaw people not being able to know how to care for things…,” she said. “We have the technology here to be able to do that.”
A special glass case will preserve the regalia.
Stevens is making plans to reveal the item with a ceremony on National Aboriginal Day, June 21.
“Having it here not only means having people come in and sharing our history with us, but it also starts to have the spiritual cultural connection to our ancestors,” she said.