Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron
The Great Blue Heron is a Nova Scotia migratory resident – they breed here in the Province and fly to winter along the Caribbean coast of the USA.
These wonderful birds inspired many Mi’kmaq legends, and so on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, I got thinking about the birds and Mi’kmaq elder Noel Knockwood who came to some of the schools I taught at and told stories.
My favourite of his concerning birds was the legend of the Two Sisters Who Married Stars. It seems two girls wished to marry two stars in the sky if they were Mi’kmaq and here on earth. On awaking in the morning, the stars were beside them and they entered their wigwams as their husbands. Later the girls discovered they had been granted their wish, but they were in the sky. They were told they could return to the earth, but they must obey certain directions if they were to reach it safely. The girls disobeyed and found themselves lodged in the branches of a tall spruce tree. After getting down from the tree, the girls fled across the river on the neck of some Cranes (Great Blue Herons) and escaped to a village, where they married two young chiefs. Thus the Girls Who Married the Stars became the honoured wives of Mi’kmaq chiefs.
When we lived in Wallbrook, Shelburne County, our home overlooked a large marsh. We often saw Great Blue Herons, and since the Mi’kmaq had lived there long before us it always made me smile to see the huge birds. In Keji Park, there are carvings made, and one represents this story of the Great Blue Herons and a Star Marrying Girl.
Now, whether here in Port Maitland, or when travelling, the same story is often brought to mind when we see the herons. The image this week is of our summer resident here in our marsh, the helper of those who would marry a star!
I’ll wear orange today as a symbol of the stripping away of culture, freedom and self-esteem experienced by Indigenous children over the generations. May we always remember the first people who lived here!

Blog Feb 4