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Canadian astronaut takes Mi'kmaw basket to space station

Thursday, December 06, 2018 2:10 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

David Saint-Jacques also given an eagle feather and a Mi'kmaw name.

When Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques blasted into space Monday on his way to the International Space Station, he took with him some symbolic Mi'kmaw items.

Tucked away in his gear was an eagle feather and a miniature, handmade basket created out of wood from a black ash tree.

"The one that is travelling in space with him now is a tiny little basket the size of a loonie," said basketmaker Shanna Francis of Eskasoni First Nation in Cape Breton.

"I made it a few years ago and it has a new home now. It's in space."

Francis joined many other Indigenous people inside a theatre room at the Discovery Centre in Halifax to watch the rocket blast off from Kazakhstan. 

"It makes me believe that anything is possible," said Francis. "I hope it might in some way open new doors for the youth in our community."

Many others took in the launch at the Membertou Trade and Convention Centre in Cape Breton.

"We try to light the embers of creativity and imaginations for these kids," said Christopher Googoo, chief operating officer of Ulnooweg's Digital Mi'kmaq program, which aims to bridge the digital divide faced by Indigenous youth.

"We'd like to see them pursue being an astronaut because that pursuit will get them into things like mathematics and engineering."

This past year, the Canadian Space Agency and the Digital Mi'kmaq program collaborated on a robotics program and the partnership led to the basket and feather being given to Saint-Jacques.

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The CASC office is situated in Robinson Huron Treaty territory and the land on which we learn and live is the traditional territory of the Atikameksheng Anishnawbek.

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