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Image: Emma Metallic Design: Natalie Laurin  Promo image hieroglyph we chose to represent this project: continuing medicine. Image is a snowshoe path from Gespe’gewa’gi trails.


the gallery experience

'PJILA'SI: Welcome
Come in and sit down

Nipugtug: The Gallery Experience e’w’gl piluamu’gl agnutma’timgewe’l aq angua’toqol gnuataqann ta’n gistliapajigna’tm’g tli’suti. Ula ‘lgowaqan, ignmugsi’gw aq musga’tugsi’gw ta’n gistlie’wuten atugwaqan ugjit apajimilgigna’tunenu ‘gtli’sutiminu. 


Nujiwi’giget Nnu’sgw Emma Metallic gesatg ewi’g’g mijua’ji’jue’l a’tugwaqann aq mawa’ta’s’gl lugowaqann Metise’l ta’n gisite’tgl Natalie Laurin muta gesatgl a’tugwaqan amalwi’gaqane’l. Metallic aq Laurin gisite’tmi’tij ula gegina’mueg amalaptegemgewei ugjit Nipugtug.

Nipugtug, na majulgwattmuaj A’le’s ugtawti, weja’tegemg e’pite’ji’juiteg glapis gisigui’sgwuiteg. Na’te’l A’le’s weltesguajig wi’sisg aq miti’sg ta’n ilgwenjig ugjit ta’n tlsaputa’sitew ta’n telimtue’g aq ta’n telglulg gegina’masimg Nnui’suti. 



Nipugtug: The Gallery Experience uses multimedia storytelling tools to expand upon the themes of counter memory activism and Mi’gmaw language revitalization. This collaborative project encourages visitors to experience how Mi’gmaw language revitalization can transcend fluency. 


Mi’gmaw author Emma Metallic’s passion for writing children’s stories is combined with Métis designer Natalie Laurin’s love for visual storytelling. Metallic and Laurin produce an engaging gallery adaptation of Nipugtug. 

Nipugtug follows the intergenerational journey of A’le’s, a young Mi’gmaw woman, walking through a forest. There, she meets animals and trees who guide her through both challenging and nourishing emotions of learning her Mi’gmaw language. 


'Gta'tugwaqanminu: Our Story


Natalie Laurin (she/her) is a Métis illustrator and graphic designer, with family roots in the Georgian Bay Métis community. She works with a variety of mediums, specializing in acrylics, watercolor, vector-based digital graphics, digital illustration, and beadwork. 


Natalie holds a Bachelor of Design in Interdisciplinary Design and a Minor in Illustration from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. She is most passionate about using her talents to illustrate books for Indigenous children, so they may have the opportunity to learn about their cultures growing up and become inspired to continue our collective revitalization journey. She strives to use a respectful, informed, and collaborative approach when designing for communities other than her own, continuously working within themes of community and relationship building.


Emma Metallic (she/her) is from the Mi’gmaq community, Listuguj, Quebec, located in the seventh district Gespe’gewa’gi, Mi’gma’gi. Emma holds a Bachelor of Arts Combined Honours in Law, Justice, & Society with Contemporary Studies and a Minor in Indigenous Studies from the University of King’s College. Her community’s knowledge has grounded and guided her throughout her studies. 


Emma  is passionate about learning how to speak Mi’gmaw and examine ways to safely and respectfully encourage speakers to speak Mi’gmaw. Inspired by the use of storytelling, Emma  is passionate about writing short children's stories that reflect her community’s knowledge, needs, and desires. While a Mi’gmaw learner, she  aims to write her stories in the Mi’gmaw language with the help of Mi’gmaq speakers around her.

Natalie and Emma met in their first year of University where they were both staying in residence at the University of King’s College. They have been best friends ever since, and went on to live together for about 3 years! They have always wanted to collaborate and create a meaningful piece and after years of talking about it, they finally had the opportunity to do so. 


Nipugtug: The Gallery Experience first began when Natalie approached Emma in early February of 2022. Natalie asked Emma if she would like to collaborate on her final degree design project. Natalie was interested in using the Treaty Space gallery exhibition and wanted to use this opportunity to uplift and showcase Mi’kmaq culture. Since the beginning of Natalie’s NSCAD education, Natalie has lived on Mi’kma’ki for several years  and has since built and sustained relations with various Mi’kmaq communities. 


Natalie wanted to focus on Mi’kmaw language revitalization and at the time, Emma was enrolled in a full-time Adult Mi’gmaw Immersion program in her home community. Without a doubt, Emma said yes! Together they worked out a plan to have Natalie illustrate some pieces of Emma’s short story. With only a few months before the opening of the exhibition (April 26, 2022) , Natalie and Emma worked together to produce an engaging gallery adaptation of Nipugtug. 


To creating and nourishing relations, Nipugtug: The Gallery Experience is a space of love and friendship. 

Qasgusi P'tewei: Cedar Tea

Living in Listuguj, Qasgusi’g surrounds  the community. Whether you’re hiking, snowshoeing, or running throughout the Gespe’gewa’gi trails, you’ll find Qasgusi’g nearby. They grow close to brooks or streams, and with enough wind blowing, their sweet smell will surround you.


In Nipugtug, Qasgusi gently guides A’le’s throughout her life as she navigates nipugt and her relationship with her Mi’gmaw language.  


Mi’gmaq people have a special relationship with Qasgusi. Mi’gmaq people have harvested Qasgusi for a variety of medicinal and ceremonial uses. Qasgusiei p’tewei is one of them. In Nipugtug: The Gallery Experience, Qasgusiei P’tewei was shared as a way to invite visitors to experience Nipugtug through their senses. 

How to make Qasgusi P'tewei

Drinking Qasgusiei p’tewei is known to have many health benefits, including helping fight off the common cold. To learn how to make Qasgusiei P’tewei, continue reading!


Wela’lieg Qasgusi’g 

  • Before you begin to harvest qasgusi’g nipi’g, first you may give an offering and thank qasgusi for providing us with their medicine. Through this offering, we remind ourselves of our long-standing relationship with qasgusi’g and how to sustain one another. 


Harvest Qasgusi’g Nipi’g

  • Fresh qasgusi’g nipi’g are best for making qasgusi p’tewei. Harvest the qasgusi’g nipi’g  by taking them directly off the branches, or by cutting off smaller branches. Remember to only take as much as you need. A handful is enough for 4-5 cups of tea. 


Boil Water 

  • Place the fresh qasgusi’g nipi’g into a large pot of boiling water. Simmer for about 10 minutes on low heat until the water becomes golden brown. For a stronger taste, let the leaves simmer a bit longer. 



  • Remove the leaves from the pot and serve your qasgusiei p’tewei!

Qasgusi P'tewei


The traditional territory of the Mi’gmaq people is called Mi’gma’gi. As told in our Creation stories, Mi’gma’gi is composed of seven traditional districts; Unama’gig, Esgigewa’gig, Sugepne’gatig, Epegwitg aq Pigtug, Gespugwitg, Signigtewa’gig aq Gespe’gewa’gig. Listuguj is located in the seventh district, Gespe’gewa’gi – meaning The Last Land. 


You may think of Mi’gmaq districts as similar to Provincial borderlines, however, rather than imposed borderlines, Mi’gmaq district boundaries are aligned with the natural features of our territory, such as; rivers, mountain ranges, and gathering places. 


In Nipugtug, A’le’s is from the community of Listuguj and embarks on a generational language journey throughout the Gespe’gewa’gi trails located in her backyard. There, she meets animals and trees who guide her through both challenging and nourishing emotions of learning her language. 


Wapus’s, Wowgwis’s, Ga’qaquj’s, and Tia’m’s footprints scatter the exhibition floor. We hope that visitors will feel immersed as they read through the story and walk alongside A’le’s.

animal map and symbols.png

A’tugwaqan: Story


Nipugtug is a story that I have been wanting to write for a while now. My ideas for it were floating around in my head for a few months, scribbles of scenes sprawled across my notebooks. While I was thinking of this story, I was enrolled in a full-time Adult Mi’gmaq Immersion program in my home community. In class, I was surrounded by classmates who all held different generational experiences of learning, hearing, and speaking Mi’gmaw. Yet we all had the same passion for wanting to learn our language. Throughout the winter, I spent time snowshoeing in our woods, the Gespe’gewa’gi trails. In nipugt, I heard the trees whispering, I saw the animals running by, the sun shining throughout the trees. Nipugt helped ground me while I was learning Mi’gmaw. 

After Natalie approached me, I started to draft an outline, and it was then that I realized that I wanted my story to be framed around our nipugt. Memory plays an interesting role in our language. Mi’gmaw speakers are now tasked with having to remember old words they heard growing up in order to pass them down to the next generation. While Mi’gmaw language resources exist now, challenges still remain between bridging Mi’gmaq speakers and learners. Nipugtug, was my way of exploring these challenges, to help safely bridge speakers and learners, and to shed light on how nourishing our language is.

The Mi’gmaw language is a unique language that reflects the rhythms, sounds, movements, and patterns of our territorial landscape. Our language and the land are interconnected. As such, the Mi’gmaw language exists in a continuous state of flux and reflects our ever-changing realities.  

Anytime I felt stuck writing or needed inspiration to flush out an  idea, I went out into nipugt, and from there I was able to think about what I wanted to write. I noticed Wapus footprints scattered around me, how difficult the trail became when no one had walked on it, the way the trail narrowed making it harder to walk, the smell of cedar trees, steep hills, beautiful skies, calm, quiet, peacefulness. My time spent in and with nipugt, helped me to craft Nipugtug.

I first wrote Nipugtug in English and I then started to translate it into Mi’gmaw with the help of my dad, Fred Metallic, who is a first-language  Mi’gmaw speaker. When we started to translate, we realized that it is really hard! We were working with two very distinct knowledge systems. There are English words and phrases that you can’t put into Mi’gmaw, and even when we did, it didn’t flow well in Mi’gmaw. After we realized that, we switched our approach and then said, ‘okay well instead of translating it directly, let’s just write it how we would say it Mi’gmaw’, after that we were able to finish writing Nipugtug in Mi’gmaw. While the English and Mi’gmaw texts are not direct translations, in this way, they respect and honor each knowledge system and allow them to be understood in their respective language.

Mi’gmewa’j Editor Joe Wilmot reviewed the final Mi’gmaw edits of Nipugtug. . Since, 1997 alongside Listugujewaq Diane Mitchell and Eunice Metallic, Joe has worked on creating a Mi’gmaq Online Dictionary. Joe provides Mi’gmaq edits and adds entries, records words, and prepares and records sentences for the dictionary (Mikmaqonline, 1997).

My dad is a first language Mi’gmaw speaker, however like many Mi’gmaq speakers, he did not grow up learning how to read and write in Mi’gmaw. Violent colonial policies and practices forced the English language upon Listuguj in attempts to destroy the Mi’gmaw language. 

In Listuguj, there are a handful of first language Mi’gmaq speakers who can provide Mi’gmaq copy edits at a skilled level. I’m grateful and honored to have been able to work on Nipugtug with my dad and Joe. 


For the illustrations, Natalie and I couldn’t decide on which scenes should be illustrated, so I asked Natalie to read the full text and then pick out which ones she thought would be best illustrated. For Natalie, as she read through Nipugtug, images jumped out to her and she knew then what she wanted to illustrate. We agreed on three  key images that we thought would capture Nipugtug for the exhibition. From that moment on, Nipugtug changed from words to sketches, to beautiful finished paintings.



Throughout Nipugtug, Mi’gmaq words and phrases scatter the text. Key characters, place names, and phrases are in Mi’gmaq, with no English translation. Instead, a small glossary booklet, designed by Natalie, was the guide containing the English translations. We wanted to put the Mi’gmaq texts first as a way to counter the dominant narrative of reading English first. 

Visitors reading Nipugtug were tasked with having to learn and read Mi’gmaq words in order to comprehend the story. By doing this, we were awakening and revitalizing the Mi’gmaw language to a broader audience. Visitors then left the exhibition having learned several new Mi’gmaw words.

Wela'lieg: Thank you

Wela’lieg to those who helped make Nipugtug: The Gallery Experience a possibility. 


Natalie Laurin: Designer and Artist

Emma Metallic: Author 

Fred Metallic: Mi’gmaw Translation 

Joe Wilmot: Mi’gmaw copy edits 

Solomon Nagler: Principle Investigator, SSHRC Grant 

Angela Henderson: Co-Applicant, SSHRC Grant

Sage Sidley: Website Design

Funded by the SSHRC and NSCAD University research cluster: Memory Activism; Collaborative Processes of Counter-Memorialization.

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