About Paq’tnkek

Afton was registered as a reserve in 1820 with 1000 acres set aside for the Mi’kmaw Indians of the Afton and Pomquet areas (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC n.d.). The reserved land included 880 acres in the Pomquet area and 120 acres at the confluence of ‘the river,’ i.e., Indian Gardens or the Pomquet River.

This area was originally placed in trust for the benefit of the Indians to Rev. E. Burke. Although this area was not officially a reserve until 1820, it was referred to as a reserve in the early 1800s. It was created in a colonising environment in which the Mi’kmaw, whose population had been dramatically reduced by European diseases, were being overwhelmed and displaced by tens of thousands of immigrants.

The early ‘reserves’ were created for the purpose of leaving the Mi’kmaw with places to live that would not interfere with settler prerogatives and interests. In Paq’tnkek, the original amount of reserve land, miserably limited in the first place, has been seriously reduced due to European encroachments.

Paq’tnkek in Mi’kmaw means “by the bay.” This meaning emphasises the importance of the bay and its resources to the Mi’kmaw people. The Antigonish and Pomquet harbours along with the associated watersheds and the land surrounding this area have been the source of many important foods for Mi’kmaw throughout the Maritime Provinces.

Today, the Paq’tnkek Mi’kmaw Nation is using their strong cultural history and reliance on the land as a key tool in the planning and development of economic and social ventures to embrace their past, present and future endeavours.