Nestled along the edge of the Bras d’Or Lake (a designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve), in Cape Breton (NS), Eskasoni is home to approximately 4,000 and is one of the largest Mi’kmaq speaking communities in the world. The name Eskasoni comes from the Mi’kmaq “We’kwistoqnik”, literally meaning, “Where the fir trees are plentiful”. Eskasoni is one of five Mi’kmaq communities on Cape Breton Island, and one of thirteen in the province of Nova Scotia. It is the largest Aboriginal community in Atlantic Canada, and the largest Mi’kmaq community in the world.

Eskasoni officially became a Reserve in 1834, but that does not mean life has been easy for its inhabitants. In the 1940s the Department of Indian Affairs introduced a policy known as “centralization” whereby all Native peoples in Nova Scotia were relocated to one of two locations: Eskasoni for those living on Cape Breton Island, and Shubenacadie for those living on mainland Nova Scotia. This influx of Aboriginal people to Eskasoni created lasting problems for the community, including problems with overcrowding, sanitation, poor housing and substance abuse.

The Band Council was established in 1958, and the community now benefits from a community-run school system from kindergarten to Grade 12, ensuring that Eskasoni’s children can learn their language and culture.

Watch the episode filmed in Nova Scotia and featuring Master of Ceremonies and Eskasoni native Mike Doucette, to find out more about this unique community and how they have revived the culture and traditions of their ancestors.
Jul 11, 2016
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