METEPENAGIAG MI’KMAQ NATION (GNB) – The Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture, the Metepenagiag Mi’kmaq Nation and the Metepenagiag Heritage Park recently signed a memorandum of understanding to ensure the continued development and promotion of the park’s Indigenous research and interpretive centre.

Since 2017, the department has worked collaboratively to create the conditions necessary to repatriate over 60,000 artifacts in its care to the Metepenagiag Mi’kmaq Nation as soon as they have the appropriate facilities and staffing to curate them.

“It is with great honour that we reaffirm our commitment to protect and promote the significant cultural and natural assets and values of the Metepenagiag Mi’kmaq Nation,” said Tourism, Heritage and Culture Minister Robert Gauvin. “By signing this memorandum of understanding, we are not only strengthening our partnership, but we are also ensuring that the park continues to play an important role in the conservation of community artifacts and as an indigenous tourism, heritage and cultural attraction for our province.”

The National Trust for Canada presented the 2018 Governor’s Award to the park and the department’s Archaeological Services Branch for their collaboration in the repatriation of the artifacts.

“This is a great day for the Metepenagiag Heritage Park,” said Claude DeGrâce, chairman and manager of the park. “We can now continue our collections research and offer more possibilities to expand and share the knowledge of Metepenagiag’s cultural heritage resources with New Brunswickers and with visitors from all over the world.”

The artifacts have been in the care of the provincial government since 1975 and originate from two provincial and national historic sites: Augustine Mound and Oxbow Site. They include spear points, projectile points, scrapers, pottery and ceremonial objects from more than 3,000 years of occupation.

“For half a century, our two governments have worked together to conserve Metepenagiag’s history and culture, to ensure future generations remember their ancestors’ history,” said Aboriginal Affairs Minister Jake Stewart. “This is a great feat that could only be accomplished with a relationship built on trust and respect. With the signing of this memorandum of understanding, this relationship has become even stronger.”