Rita Joe, daughter of Joseph (Josie) and Annie (Googoo) Bernard, was born in We’koqma’q (Whycocomagh) First Nation, on March 15, 1932. At the age of 12, she went to the Shubenacadie Residential School until she was 16. During that time, she was forbidden to speak her language and endured mental and physical abuse. Later, she met and married Frank Joe in Boston and eventually moved to Eskasoni where they raised 8 children and 2 adopted boys. In the 1970’s she completed her high school diploma and took a course in business education. During 1978 to 1999, she published her creative works based upon her experiences as an Indigenous person in Canada: Poems of Rita Joe (1978); Song of Eskasoni (1988); Lnu and Indians We’re Called (1991); Kelusultiek: Original Women’s Voices of Atlantic Canada (1994); Song of Rita Joe: Autobiography of a Mi’kmaq Poet (1996); The Mi’kmaq Anthology (1997) (co-edited with Lesley Choyce); and We are the Dreamers (1999). She also received numerous honorary doctorates and awards including the Atlantic Writing Competition (1975), Member of the Order of Canada (1989), Member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada (1992), and the National Aboriginal Achievement Award (1997) which is now known as the Indspire Award. Rita Joe became known as the Poet Laureate Of The Mi’kmaq People. She passed away on March 20, 2007.
Born on December 30, 1938 to Simon Cremo and Annie Cremo in Barra head, Cape Breton. A Mi’kmaq community which is now called Potlotek. At age 4, he moved to Eskasoni, and that’s where he spent most of his life with his wife Nelly Cremo and two children, Liz Cremo and Timothy Cremo. As a young child, he would listen to his father play, an accomplished fiddler, who later taught lee to play the fiddle at the age of 7. His talent wasn’t revealed till the age of 18, at the time him and “his father were playing for a dance in Boisdale, Lee was playing the guitar accompanying his fathers fiddle. His father took a stroke during at that location and was immediately rushed to the hospital. To save the dance, Lee picked up the fiddle and finished the dance for him”. Over the years from being taught not only his father but by Winston Fitzgerald and Dan Hughie. Lee began his journey, to becoming one of the greatest fiddlers of all time. Cremo made his living in turn as a lumberman in Maine and a bus driver in Eskasoni but he appeared at the fiddling and folk music events across the world. Lee won many competitions and awards throughout his fiddling career. He won the maritime Old Time Fiddling Contest in Dartmouth, NS, six times. A trip to the Grand Master Fiddling Championships in Nashville, which he got an award for ‘ Best Bow Arm In The World’ which is documented in the film Arm of gold (1986). He also performed at events as Expo 67 for Queen Elizabeth ll, and in 1999 the launch of the Aboriginal People’s Television Network. By 1995 he had won over 80 fiddle competitions and released The Champion Returns which was voted The Best First Nations recording at the 1996 East Coast Music Awards. Lee Cremo died on October 10, 1999 at the age of 60.
Lee Cremo, son of Simon and Annie Cremo, was born on December 30, 1938 at Barra Head, Cape Breton. At the age of 4, he moved to Eskasoni and spent his life with his family. As a young child, he would listen to his father play, an accomplished fiddler, who later taught him how to play the fiddle at the age of 7. He was also taught by influential musicians Winston “Scotty” Fitzgerald and Dan Hughie MacEachern. During his renowned fiddling career he had received over 80 awards and competitions. During 1966 to 1977, he was awarded first place in the Maritime Old Time Fiddling Contest in Dartmouth, NS. He also performed at events for Expo 67 for Queen Elizabeth II and in 1999 released The Champion Returns which was voted The Best First Nations recording at the 1996 East Coast Music Awards. While he appeared at fiddling and folk music events across Canada and the United States, he was also a Lumberman in Maine and a bus driver in Eskasoni. During his life, he was well known as an ambassador for the Cape Breton Mi'kmaq community. He passed away on October 10, 1999 at the age of 60.