Eskasoni Cultural Journeys and Community of Eskasoni
20 minutes from Iona is the nearby Mi’kmaw community of Eskasoni. Eskasoni is home to Goat Island and Eskasoni Cultural Journeys. Eskasoni is the largest Mi’kmaw community, and the largest First Nations community east of Montreal, with a population of approximately 5,000.
Set along a 2.3-km trail around Goat Island on Cape Breton’s tranquil Bras d’Or Lakes are a series of “stations” manned by ardent band members. Learn to make your own “four cent” cake – the popular snack created from leftover dough fried in lard – over an open fire. Stroll a wooded waterside pathway with Mi’kmaq guides clad in traditional, homemade moose hide regalia and moccasins. Step inside a spacious tipi in a forest clearing and rest on a cushion alongside a fire pit to experience a soothing and purifying smudge ceremony with the scented smoke from healing herbs.
Learn insights among traditional hunting and fishing practices. Get up and try the koujua dance alongside a lady in a “jingle dress” whose rows of small metal cones make a tinkling sound as she moves. Practice your drumming. Listen to music. Play the ancient game of waltes and discover the practice of heating a tipi with glowing-hot rocks from a fire. At a reconstructed trading post, hear the stories of how Europeans once exchanged medicine and tobacco for pelts and hides.
In addition to Goat Island, Eskasoni also features a Foodland grocery store, gas stations, restaurants, convenience stores, Holy Family Roman Catholic Church, schools and a wellness centre administrating the needs of an ever increasing community boasting a population 5,000 residents.