In the Mi’kmaq Nation, the wtisi, or nest, is particularly symbolic of the eagle. Eagles are monogamous and the nest is a place for both adult and young together. The nest provides a safe place to be nourished and develop. However, the nest must be strong, with good resources, to withstand the pressures around it. The concept of wtisi embodies a hope for the realization of the Mi’kmaq dream for a “science nest” where learning is truly based on two-eyed seeing, the bringing together of Mi’kmaq and Western scientific knowledge and ways of knowing.
Science Wtisi is a project under development with Cape Breton University and UINR. The Science Wtisi could provide space, resources, encouragement, and energy for many things: observations of the sky (via a planetarium), basket making, science camps, tutorial services for all levels K-12 and through university, professional development for educators and diverse service providers, brain-centered learning, summer schools, nature-based learning, medicinal plant instruction, architecture as a manifest understanding of Mi’kmaq culture and science, ecofriendly methods of housing and heating, and cultural continuity.
The Science Wtisi is envisioned as the requisite supportive, nourishing environment in which to encourage and grow a new generation of aboriginal (and other) scientists versed in broad approaches and well placed to tackle the challenges of their age. It is also the environment envisioned as essential and necessary to professionally and culturally assist and encourage those Mi’kmaq people already pursuing a science path in their education or career. UINR very much sees the Science Wtisi as essential for aboriginal success in science today, as well as for the next generation.