Collection - Sarah Denny Cultural Collection

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Sarah Denny Cultural Collection

General material designation

  • Moving images
  • Sound recording
  • Object
  • Multiple media

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1944-2018 ; predominately 1970-2008 (Creation)
    Denny, Sarah

Physical description area

Physical description

303 audio cassettes
176 video cassettes
16 minidigital cassettes
5 mini discs
7 DVD-R discs
14 DVD discs
42 CD-R discs
4 CD discs
5 artifacts

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Archival description area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Sarah Agnes Denny, the daughter of Richard and Mary Rose Johnson (Mary Rose Christmas), was born in Sydney, Nova Scotia on September 2, 1925 and was raised by her grandmother, Julie Bernard Nevin. She was originally from Potlotek (Chapel Island), but later moved to Membertou. Sarah married Noel R. Denny and together they had twelve children. Sarah and Noel established a home in Eskasoni and would remain in that community for sixty years. Sarah was an educator and the first Mi’kmaq Teacher's Aide at the Eskasoni Federal School. She completed an Early Childhood Education course at the Centennial College of Applied Arts and Technology in Toronto, Ontario, and in 1972, she received her certification as a classroom assistant from Seneca College in Toronto. She also completed courses at York University and worked as a teacher’s assistant. In 1973, Sarah became the first Mi’kmaq Cultural Officer from the Mi’kmaq Association for Cultural Studies and was a part of the Association for three decades. She shared her knowledge of language, culture, songs, dances, and ceremonies in the Nation and across the globe. She was Christian as well as a believer in Mi’kmaq tradition. She was a bridge between the two realities for the community and one of her major accomplishments was the production of the Mi’kmaq Hymnal kit. She loved and taught her children how to chant, sing, pray and dance in traditional ways but not only her children, she formed the Eskasoni Mi’kmaq Dancers to teach others. She also formed the Eskasoni Noel R. Denny Memorial Powwow. Sarah was present in several films, videos and radio interviews. She was honoured in 1991 by Grand Chief George Eramus/National Indian Brotherhood, presently the AFN, for her Dedication and Commitment to the Preservation of Aboriginal Languages. She passed away on September 6, 2002.

Custodial history

The recordings were either created and/or collected by Sarah Denny and the Denny Family over a number of decades. Recordings from members of Mi'kmaq communities, predominently the Eskasoni community, and community organizations are represented in the collection.

In 2016, Joel Denny contacted the Beaton Institute to discuss the digitization and collaboration of the collection in order to preserve and provide access to the recordings. A Project Coordinator was hired in 2021 to collaborate and consult with cultural experts to provide appropriate access to the Mi'kmaq communities and to researchers.

Other copies of recordings, depending on their creator and original ownership, have been returned with an archival copy remaining for preservation purposes on-site at the archive.

*custodial history and provenance of the collection is ongoing

Scope and content

The collection consists of audio and video interviews, games, hymns, traditional chants, and community events pertaining to Eskasoni and other Mi'kmaq communities in Nova Scotia between the 1940's to the 2000's, both in the Mi'kmaw and English languages. This collection consists of 8 boxes of sound recordings, moving images, and artefacts belonging to Sarah Denny, her children and other community members and organizations. These recordings document culturally and historically significant peoples, events, and traditions of the L'nu/Mi'kmaq.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition


Language of material

    Script of material

      Language and script note

      Both in the Mi'kmaw and English languages.

      Location of originals

      Beaton Institute

      Availability of other formats


      Soundcloud Playlist:
      YouTube Playlist:


      Soundcloud Playlist:
      YouTube Playlist:


      Soundcloud Playlist:
      YouTube Playlist:

      Restrictions on access

      See series, file, and/or item level for descriptions. Links to the audio and video recordings will be included on the Project Page and in the fonds level of description. Additional series and recordings will be uploaded over time, along with transcriptions for the records.

      Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

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      General note

      All of the collection's recordings that are uploaded are approved to be shared by the individual interviewee, surviving family members, knowledge keepers, and/or organizations.

      Mi'kmaq translations to follow.

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