Government of Canada commemorates the national historic significance of Skmaqn—Port-la-Joye—Fort Amherst National Historic Site and launches new interpretive media for the site
New plaque, video, and interpretive panels help communicate the importance and complex history of the site.
September 8, 2023 Rocky Point, PEI Parks Canada Agency
Today, Heath MacDonald, Member of Parliament for Malpeque, Prince Edward Island, commemorated the national historic significance of Skmaqn—Port-la-Joye—Fort Amherst National Historic Site with a special ceremony to unveil a new Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada plaque at the site. The announcement was made on behalf of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault.
The Mi’kmaq have inhabited Epekwitk (Prince Edward Island) for millennia and the area of Skmaqn – traditional Mi’kmaw for “waiting place”– on the present-day shores of Rocky Point, has long been an important site. In 2018, in the spirit of reconciliation and on recommendation of the Mi’kmaw leadership of Prince Edward Island, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada added “Skmaqn” to the name of the National Historic Site. The three-part name “Skmaqn—Port-la-Joye—Fort Amherst” has been in use since that time, and the new plaque commemorating the significance of the site has now been officially unveiled.
The name “Skmaqn” is thought to have its origins in the years 1725-1758 when Mi’kmaw and French leaders met annually at the site to renew their relationship and military alliance, during a time when the French and British empires were fighting for supremacy in North America. One of the first permanent French settlements on the island, Port-la-Joye was the seat of that colonial government and a port of entry. From this site, surrendered to Great Britain in 1758 and renamed Fort Amherst, the British organized and carried out the deportation of more than 3,000 Island Acadians to France.
During today’s event, new interpretive media for Skmaqn—Port-la-Joye—Fort Amherst National Historic Site, created in collaboration with L’nuey, was also launched and shared with attendees. New outdoor exhibit panels installed near the Visitor Centre have been produced in English, French and Mi’kmaw, while new trilingual panels have been installed at the earthworks of Fort Amherst and site of the Haché-Gallant homestead. Through rich historical descriptions and artistic as well as photographic imagery, the panels showcase the complex human history of the site.
A vibrant and engaging new 16-minute video – produced in Mi’kmaw, French, and English versions – was also screened during the event. The video tells the story of this important site; where three cultures, each with their own beliefs and aspirations, experienced hardships and struggles, but also successes. The video will be available for viewing at the Visitor Centre during the July-August operational season as well as online for public viewing.
Parks Canada is committed to working collaboratively with Indigenous peoples and honouring their contributions to our shared heritage, history, and future. Collaborating with numerous Indigenous communities across Canada, Parks Canada and Indigenous peoples are partners in conserving natural and cultural heritage and sharing the stories of these treasured places.
“The Government of Canada is committed to reconciliation and a renewed relationship with Indigenous peoples, based on a recognition of rights, respect, collaboration, and partnership. On behalf of the Government of Canada, we commemorate the national historic significance of Skmaqn—Port-la-Joye—Fort Amherst National Historic Site. I am pleased to unveil the new plaque and interpretive media at this important site, which has been historically important to many different people and cultures and continues to be a treasured place for local Islanders and visitors alike. National historic sites and designations commemorate all aspects of Canada's history, both positive and negative. By sharing these stories with Canadians, we hope to foster better understanding of Canada’s history.”
Member of Parliament for Malpeque
Skmaqn–Port-la-Joye–Fort Amherst National Historic Site is located in Rocky Point, Prince Edward Island, across the harbour south of Charlottetown. Thanks to its strategic location at the harbour entrance, the site was a gateway and gathering place for centuries. As its three-part name suggests, it has played an important role in Island history and has distinct significance for Mi’kmaw, Acadian, and British-descendent communities. Here, between 1720 and 1768, events took place which helped shape the future of Prince Edward Island.
Parks Canada works closely with Mi’kmaw leaders, communities and individuals on PEI and aims to strengthen the connection that the Mi’kmaw, as well as Acadian, French and British cultural stakeholder groups, have to the site. The new interpretive products have been produced through a contribution agreement with L’nuey, the Mi'kmaq Rights Initiative, which has been in place since 2019.
The Framework for History and Commemoration outlines a new, comprehensive, and engaging approach to sharing the stories of Canada’s history through diverse, wide-ranging, and sometimes complex perspectives, including the difficult periods of our past. In particular, the Framework ensures that the history and voices of Indigenous peoples are incorporated at Parks Canada’s administered sites.
Created in 1919, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada advises the Minister of Environment and Climate Change regarding the national historic significance of persons, places, and events that have marked history in Canada. Together with Parks Canada, the Board ensures that subjects of national historic significance are recognized, and these important stories are shared with Canadians.
The majority of nominations brought forward for the consideration of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada originate from members of the public. To nominate a person, place or historical event in your community, please visit the Parks Canada website for more information: https://parks.canada.ca/culture/designation/proposer-nominate.
Partnering, Engagement and Communications Officer
PEI Field Unit
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Parks Canada Agency
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