The trilingual plaque was unveiled at a special ceremony at the fort on June 22 with the board’s chairman Dr. Richard Alway on hand for the occasion.
“Thanks to the efforts of Annapolis Royal residents and other dedicated Canadians who had the foresight to protect the fort, it stands today as a symbol of our country,” Alway said.
This year Fort Anne celebrates its 100th anniversary as Canada’s first administered national historic site and is the foundation of the system of historic sites in Canada.
It’s located on the traditional homeland of the Mi’kmaq people and Dr. Bernie Francis, author of The Language of This Land, Mi’kma’ki, was master of ceremonies for the event that also marked the opening of the new exhibits at the Officer’s Quarters.
The exhibits were created after consultation with Mi’kmaq, Acadian, and African Nova Scotian experts. Don Julien with the Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq said there were three primary recommendations from his people with the first being to encourage visitors to understand Mi’kmaq worldviews and ways of life as distinct from European worldviews and ways of life.
“The Mi’kmaq have grown up from this place Mi’kma’ki, over many millennia,” said Julien. “Nova Scotia was not founded or discovered, rather Mi’kma’ki was encountered. This attachment to place is among the most profound differences between Mi’kmaq and Europeans who arrived in Mi’kma’ki during the 17th and 18th centuries. This was the most important visitor outcome at Fort Anne.”
Julien said the second recommendation was to convey to visitors the political and military strength that forced the British into treaty negotiations.
“It is important to note that the treties were not agreements about land,” he said, “they were diplomatic measures taken to allow for people to co-exist in Mi’kma’ki. Mi’kma’ki is unceded land.”
The final recommendation was to convey the persistence and resiliency of the Mi’kmaq through the overwhelming nature of European colonialism, disease, and land loss, and return to the process of reconciliation in recent years.
Annapolis Royal Mayor Bill MacDonald welcomed the dignitaries to Annapolis Royal. He refers to the town as the ‘Cradle of Our Nation’ and the ancestral territory of the Mi’kmaq people.
“It is appropriate that the occupation of these lands for thousands of years by the Mi’kmaq people should be prominently reflected in the new exhibits here at Fort Anne National Historic Site,” he said.
The mayor said Annapolis Royal takes its history and heritage seriously.
“These lands were the most fought over in North America, as global empires fought and struggled for control of the new world,” he said, “and our role in the early origins of our country and the rich history and heritage of our area is unmatched.”
He said it is essential to respect, preserve, and protect history – including the physical evidence of that history.
“For that reason, I join my voice to the chorus of those opposed to the proposed closing of the state-of-the-art archeology lab in Dartmouth and the relocation of Nova Scotia artifacts to the Province of Quebe – including artifacts from Port Royal, Fort Anne, Melanson Settlement, and Grand Pré,” he said.
Also at the event was CEO of Parks Canada Daniel Watson, several members of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada board, and other Parks Canada representatives.
The plaque unveiling ended with a tour of the new exhibits.