Noel Knockwood

If you don’t believe that a person can keep their Native language, follow their traditions and personify the richness of Aboriginal spirituality while remaining a success in modern-day Canada, you haven’t met Elder Noel Knockwood. Almost single-handedly, this Elder began the task of restoring and building the Native spiritual movement in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in the 1970s. Its foundations again strong, Elder Knockwood has now had Native Spirituality recognized as an official religion in Nova Scotia. Earlier in his career, Elder Knockwood was involved in the Eagle Feather Project which introduced the use of the Eagle, in place of the Bible, to his province’s judicial system. Later, he published a book on Native spirituality – Mi’kmaq Teaching and Prayers – which has been translated into German, Spanish and French and is available on the Internet. A university graduate, Elder Knockwood changed the lives of generations of Nova Scotians after he developed the Transitional Year Program for Black and Aboriginal students at Dalhousie University. He made history in 2000 when he became the first Aboriginal Sergeant-at-Arms of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly. “His commitment to his province, his integrity and his respect for others is an example for all Nova Scotians,” Premier John Hamm said at the time. A Korean War Veteran who saw 413 days of combat, Elder Knockwood was recognized when he was asked to honor Ottawa’s new Aboriginal Veterans’ Memorial by performing the opening sacred prayer. Elder Noel Knockwood has shown the way to weave traditional Aboriginal spirituality into an ever-changing modern world.