St. F.X. has a new, Indigenous voice among its purveyors of knowledge. Kerry Prosper was named St. F.X.’s first knowledge keeper in-residence, Oct. 1, and was given his new title to commemorate Treaty Day in Nova Scotia.
Prosper, a Mi’kmaw elder, author and council member with Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw nation, is a long-standing community leader – something that was acknowledged by Terena Francis, coordinator for aboriginal student affairs at St. F.X.
As knowledge keeper, Prosper will work with students, staff and faculty at St. F.X., providing wisdom and education about traditional Indigenous ways. This will be done through on-campus office hours, and through monthly learning lodge programs on campus.
Prosper’s position is the result of consultation and collaboration between the university and many Mi’kmaw groups, including the Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq, Mi’kmaw Kinamatnewey, Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation and Pictou Landing Mi’kmaw Nation.
The appointment of Prosper was lauded as an important step toward reconciliation. At the Treaty Day Ceremony in Immaculata Hall, student Justice Gruben said, “reconciliation is about taking responsibility and moving forward. It needs to be about more than just flags and territorial acknowledgements. To truly honour the treaties that were signed, it takes a whole other set of steps.”
Lindsay Marshall, poet and former Chief of Potlotek Mi’kmaw Nation spoke about the importance of upholding the treaties, and viewing them as relevant to today, rather than just historical documents.
“A treaty is alive,” Marshall said. “Treaty education is so important to everyone, because we all need to understand there isn’t just one treaty beneficiary. Both sides benefit. All of us.”