Mi’kmaw Calendar and Traditional Astronomy: A Two-Eyed Seeing Partnership

First posted Friday, March 5, 2021 / Yom shishi, 21 Adar, 5781

By David Orenstein

The March/April 2021 issue of SkyNews features the two-page article “Mi’kmaw Moons”, by its editor Allendria Brunjes.  SkyNews is the bi-monthly “Magazine of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada”.

Here Brunjes recounts the educational outreach partnership between Cathy Leblanc of the Kejimkujik National Park and Historic Site, in Nova Scotia, and David Chapman, accomplished RASC observer. Fielding a request from Acadia First Nation, for a programme that would recount their traditional Mi’kmaw astronomy and then present constellations under the night sky, Leblanc reached out to Chapman.

Chapman quickly agreed to help. Soon they “ ‘were doing Two-Eyed Seeing…in a partnership where our knowledge was being respected …and… that we couldn’t do without each other.’ ” This partnership became the Mi’kmaw Moons Project.

Leblanc and Chapman have already  given about a dozen presentations and set up a Facebook page and a Youtube channel. They’ve even written a book, that’s awaiting illustration, Mi’kmaw Moons: A Two-Eyed Seeing Approach.

This book sounds like it might be a fitting companion for my short shelf on the History of Canadian Astronomy, right beside John MacDonald’s 1998 The Arctic Sky.  Potentially there’s a another post on it’s way reviewing the book Mi’kmaw Moons once it appears. But that’s another story.


Annotated Bibliography:

1) Allendria  Brunjes (2021) “Mi’kmaw Moons” SkyNews March/April 2021 Vol. 20, No. 6 p. 10-11, in 44 pp. issue incl. covers, Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Toronto.

First page explains and illustrates the Mi’kmaw Moons = Months. Running from new Moon to new Moon, we’re now in the Moon of Snow-Blinding = Apuknajit, to be followed by the Moon of Maple Sugar = Siwkewiku’s, for example. The other page pictures Leblanc and Chapman and tells the story of their educational  partnership.

2) John MacDonald (1998); The Arctic Sky; x + 313 pp., 12pp. Notes, 8 pp. Biblio, 1 p. Elders’ Interviews, 3pp. Index,

1 p. Inuit/European Stars, etc.; Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) / Nunavut Research Institute (NRI); Toronto/Iqualuit.

MacDonald provides a well-written, scholarly , and amply illustrated account of traditional Inuit astronomy. Managing the Igloolik Research Centre of the NRI, he worked with the local elders to preserve and share the traditions. Their stories are presented in both English and Inuktituk (transcribed by Leah Otak).