Saqamaw (Chief) Msiel Joe of Miawpukek (Conne River) was caught completely by surprise recently as he was presented with a Queen’s Jubilee Medal by MHA Tracey Perry.
“This is a great honour,” Chief Joe said, “as it is a special recognition from outside the community for the work we do in Miawpukek.
“We do our best to make life a lot better for all our people and to make our community a proud part of Newfoundland and Labrador and of Canada.
“To be recognized for this work is not only a greet compliment for me but it’s also a great accolade for everyone in Miawpukek.”
While the medal presentation may have been a surprise for Chief Joe, it should not be a surprise for the people who know his background and his life’s work for his people.
The following information is from MHA Tracey Perry
Saqamaw Misel Joewas born in Miawpukek on June 4, 1947 into a strong Mi’kmaq family, and has been a stalwart advocate for all the Mi’kmaq ways and traditions. Raised in Conne River, Misel learned these traditions first-hand from his family and community. At the age of 16, he went away in search of employment, but after exploring the country, he returned to his roots in 1973.
Since that time, he has been involved in First Nation Politics. In 1982, he became Traditional Saqamaw and the Newfoundland District Chief for the Mi’kmaq Grand Council.
Since 1988, he has been elected as the Administrative Chief every second year, in addition to the Traditional role as Saqamaw.
Misel Joe is also a spiritual leader, and has gained recognition provincially, nationally, and internationally, particularly in the area of spiritual healing.
He has had speaking engagements about native medicines and traditional healing practices at several International Alternative Medicine Conferences, even hosting two here at Miawpukek in 1996 and 2009, both of which were prestigious international events.
In July of 1999, he traveled across the Gulf in an ocean going Birch Bark Canoe, and in July of 2004 –, he traveled from Conne River to Miquelon in an ocean going Birch Bark Canoe.
In May 2004, Misel was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, by Memorial University of Newfoundland & Labrador. The degree was awarded in recognition of Misel’s contribution to the economic, social and political development of the Mi’kmaq people of Newfoundland & Labrador.
Saqamaw Misel Joe is committed to preserving the language, culture and traditions of his people. He also plays a very public role in presenting a better understanding of the Mi’kmaq people of Miawpukek to residents of this province and country.
Misel’s private life include both business activities and hobbies. He owned and operated an outfitting operation for a number of years and is now a published author of two books entitled “Muin’jij Becomes a Man” and “An Aboriginal Chief’s Journey”. He has also submitted poetry and has been published in the book “Backyards of Heavens”.
Some of his hobbies are bone carving, snow shoe making, hiking and spending much time learning the Mi’kmaq Language and songs.
He has traveled to Mawi, Rome and Britain to promote Mi’kmaq heritage, and has served on committees and organizations too numerous to mention.