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Music Cape Breton's Diversity in Unity

Mi'kmaq Wapikatji’j

Sarah Denny regularly performed Wapikatji’jThe Little White Footed Dog – with her dance troupe, the Eskasoni Mi’kmaq Dancers. It is a humourous song about a dog with limp, which is mimicked by the dancers.

This field recording was collected by Ronnie MacEachern in 1978.

Wapikatji’j, 1978. Sarah Denny. T-1076. Beaton Institute, Cape Breton University.

Sarah Denny

Sarah Denny was a Mi’kmaq elder from Eskasoni who dedicated her life to the preservation of the Mi’kmaw language, culture, and dance. She was born in 1925 to Richard and Mary Rose (Christmas) Johnson, but was raised by her grandmother, Julia Bernard Nevin. She was married to Noel R. Denny and together they raised a large family of 12 children. Sarah believed strongly in the retention and preservation of the Mi’kmaq culture, and she worked towards this goal for 30 years as a cultural officer with the Mi’kmaq Association of Cultural Studies. Her knowledge on Mi’kmaq Hymns, dance and medicines was extraordinary and she was considered an expert on these topics.

She recorded many traditional Mi’kmaq songs and dances over the years, which she also taught to her children, and eventually she established the Denny Family Dance Group. She received many awards for her work over the years and always credited the elders and her grandmother as the source of her knowledge. It is because of Sarah’s lifetime efforts of cultural preservation that many Mi’kmaq hymns, dances and songs have not been lost or forgotten. Sarah died on September 6, 2002 at the age of 77.