AINSLIE GLEN: For the first time ever, Nova Scotia’s Christmas gift to Boston is coming from Cape Breton – Inverness County, specifically.
Part of the nice thing about that, said Bobby Morris, executive assistant to Natural Resources Minister Lloyd Hines, is the cooperation being shown between the province and the Mi’kmaw community.
“What’s really huge about this is the fact that we’re recognizing the Mi’kmaw and indigenous communities across Canada, their relationship with the country and the land, and the shared interest we have in crown land,” Morris said.
“We’ve got a lot of people coming to the cutting of the tree,” he said. “We have Celtic musicians, Mi’kmaw drummers, Santa Claus, the Minister of Natural Resources, Chief Rod Googoo, Cindy Day from CTV, and The Town Heroes. That’s quite a diverse presentation of talents and cultures.
“We’re really bringing together a wide-range of culture.”
This year, the 47-foot white spruce comes from provincial Crown land in Ainslie Glen, close to the Waycobah First Nation. The Christmas tree is given as part of the annual thank you to Boston for help provided after the 1917 Halifax explosion.
“This year, the tree is truly the people’s tree,” said Hines. “It’s a gift from the people of Nova Scotia, selected from public land, to be given to the people of Boston as a thank you for their help in our time of need all those years ago.”
Boston sent medical personnel and supplies when almost 2,000 people were killed and hundreds more left injured and homeless by the historic Halifax explosion, including Mi’kmaw people living near the Dartmouth shore of Halifax Harbour at Turtle Grove.
“We, the Mi’kmaq, are proud to be part of the Christmas tree gift to Boston this year,” said Chief Rod Googoo of Waycobah First Nation.
“Our ties to the United States go back to a time before the Halifax Explosion, when the United States declared independence and we, the Mi’kmaq, were the first nation to recognize them as an independent country. The Mi’kmaq signed the Watertown Treaty with the United States in 1776 and it is still recognized today.”
The Department of Natural Resources will oversee the cutting of the tree during a public ceremony taking place on Tuesday, November 15, beginning at 10:30 a.m.
More than a hundred school children from Waycobah First Nation Elementary School and Whycocomagh Education Centre will attend the tree-cutting ceremony with dignitaries.
Performers slated to make an appearance include We’koqma’qewiskwa, a drum group from Waycobah, and Kenneth MacKenzie, a Cape Breton fiddler and bag piper.
After the ceremony, the tree will be transported by truck to Halifax with a brief stop at Tamarac Elementary School in Port Hawkesbury and at a community event on the grounds of East Antigonish Eduction Centre in Monastery.
There will be a final public farewell at the Grand Parade at Halifax City Hall, at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, November 16. The province will then transport the tree 1,117 kilometres to Boston.
The tree-lighting ceremony will take place on the Boston Common, December 1 at 7 p.m. at a ceremony expected to attract about 30,000 people in person and be broadcast live to about 240,000 viewers on Boston television station WCVB. The Town Heroes, will also perform at this event.
“We’re incredibly honoured to be a part of the Boston tree lighting event,” said Mike Ryan of the band.
“Many Nova Scotians, including me, have relatives in the Boston area. The city has always been a warm, welcoming ally to Nova Scotia and we couldn’t be happier to be a small part in expressing Nova Scotia’s gratitude.”
Details on this year’s tree-cutting ceremony are at: www.novascotia.ca/treeforboston and people can follow the tree’s travels on Twitter @TreeforBoston and like the tree on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/treeforboston.