Not everyone gets to be royalty
‘My nitap’s daughter was a Mi’kmaw princess’
I must open this edition of MemberNews with some L’nu humour. As Mi’kmaw people, we have all heard this classic line and story:
“My great-great-great-greatgreat grandmother was a ‘Mic Mac’ princess.”
We have all heard it, at least once. I have actually heard it numerous times, from numerous sources, and each telling had its own unique set of details. However, the gist is that it seems that everyone is the descendant of a “Mic Mac” princess.
This line has taken on a life of its own, and has settled in the humorous lore of our culture. It’s a romanticized idea, but it is something that is not supported by historical evidence. Regardless, we still enjoy hearing these stories from others, and making light-hearted jokes about it.
Jokes aside, this month’s focus is on actual princesses – Membertou’s representatives for the 2017 Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Summer Games, or NSMSG17.
The Summer Games Pageant has been one of our traditions for decades now, and is the crown jewel of our annual gathering, figuratively and literally. Over two evenings, the princesses vie for the title of Summer Games Queen.
Representing their respective communities, these dynamic young ladies share their personal thoughts, answer some very deep questions, demonstrate their individual talents, and show their appreciation and support for each other. I covered last year’s pageant when Membertou hosted the games, and was filled with a great sense of admiration for each and every participant.
The reigning Summer Games Queen is Membertou’s very own Salena Sylvester, a recent graduate of Sydney Academy. In just over a week, Salena will pass on the crown to a new queen.
Leading up to NSMSG17, communities host their own princess pageants, with the winner and runner up advancing to the big show.
Membertou’s Princess Pageant was held on a warm Sunday afternoon in July, and featured the emceeing debut of the fabulous Koty Stevens. You may have seen Koty in TV commercials for this weekend’s Grand Pre festival.
Our judges for the afternoon were Justine Paul, Joan Paul, and Sgt. Graham Smith. All contestants were cheered on by family members, friends and supporters.
Before continuing, I must take a moment to thank Lindsay Sylvester and Ashley Stevens for coordinating the pageant, as they also did the previous year. Also, a special thanks to Marcella Marshall for her work on the princesses’ sashes, and Andrea Dennis, who hand-beaded the crown from scratch.
One by one, Koty welcomed the five young ladies to the stage, Lyric Christmas, 18; Meadow Christmas, 16; Faith Francis, 16; Renay Kabatay, 18 and Tanaya Paul, 17.
Tanaya also participated in the previous year’s pageant, and would represent Membertou at NSMSG16. Could she do it again?
The princesses opened up their souls on stage, sharing some very thoughtful words with us. Topics ranged from bullying to youth suicide, missing and murdered Indigenous women to language and cultural preservation.
Not only are these young ladies inspirational, they’re also very talented. Meadow, Lyric and Faith shared their public speaking skills, and did so like professionals. Next was Renay, a jingle-dress dancer who comes from the legendary Kabatay family of performers. Tanaya then left the crowd astounded with her singing of Andra Day’s “Rise Up.”
Renay was selected as Miss Talent, and Tanaya by her peers as Miss Friendship. Meadow Christmas was announced as the second runner-up to the crowd’s delight.
Cassidy LaPorte, Miss Membertou 2016, with the 2017 crown in hand, awaited the big announcement.
Miss Membertou 2017 is Renay Kabatay, and Tanaya Paul was our first runner-up. They would immediately embrace with a warm hug, in a beautiful display of friendship and mutual admiration.
Both Renay and Tanaya will represent Membertou at next week’s Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Summer
Games Queen Pagean in Wagmatcook. I am very confident to say that Membertou will have backto-back Summer Games Queens.
Regardless of who wears the crown, these majestic youth are all fit for royalty.
Best of luck to Renay and Tanaya, and thank you and congratulations to Faith, Lyric and Meadow.
Now we can all say that you knew a real Mi’kmaw princess.
This is the hardworking crew who brought us the Miss Membertou 2017 pageant. From left to right are, Koty Stevens, Lindsay Sylvester with daughter Isla, Lyric Christmas, Tanaya Paul, Miss Membertou 2017 Renay Kabatay, Meadow Christmas, Faith Francis, Cassidy LaPorte, Miss Membertou 2016, and Ashley Stevens
The new Miss Membertou Renay Kabatay poses with MC Koty Stevens.
RIGHT: The judges including Justine Paul, Sgt. Graham Smith and Joan Paul watch as participants go through their paces.
Andrea Dennis handcrafted the beaded crown for Miss Membertou. She is a talented beader.