Mi’kmaw youth paint petroglyphs on boat with artist Alan Syliboy 

Grade 7 and 8 Students at Pictou Landing First Nations school are joining artist Alan Syliboy and are painting Mi’kmaw petroglyphs on a boat that will be on display at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.

Student Ethan Francis says painting the boat links the community to the past.

“A lot of our culture was lost, like a long time ago and petroglyphs are from like ways to show how it was and it’s almost like stories being told from ancestors,” said Francis.

Petroglyphs are rock carvings estimated to be older than European contact.

The eight pointed star is one of many petroglyphs that are located at historic sites at Bedford, a community in Halifax,  Nova Scotia and Kejimkujik National Park, in southwest Nova Scotia.

Grade seven student, Kailin Hammond, said he draws to share history.

“Because we need to know how they lived and so that people know the truth about them,” said Hammond.

Alany Syliboy


Mi’kmaw artist Alan Syliboy, said the eight pointed star is popular in Mi’kmaw culture, and it represents the Mi’kmaw universe.

The star will be the centre of the boat, with other petroglyphs painted around it.

Syliboy said petroglyphs inspire his art and he hopes to pass on that inspiration to the youth.

“And so learning about them and expanding on them is really been my life’s work so you know it’s important that every child knows about petroglyphs and who left them,” said Syliboy.

Haley Bernard has been teaching for about four years. She incorporates Mi’kmaw culture into her classes.

“Like I didn’t have the opportunity to learn this as a student in school ever any cultural or language,” said Bernard.

Once completed, the boat will be on display at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, as part of an exhibit how the Mi’kmaw are connected to the land and water.