190th Anniversary of the Beothuk Institute


190th Anniversary of the Beothuk Institute

This year the Beothuk Institute will be turning 190 years old.  It was originally founded in Twillingate in 1827 by a distinguished group of Individuals headed by William Cormack.  Cormack was a industrious gentleman who had already completed a journey across Newfoundland in 1822 in search of the Beothuk with a Mi’kmaq Guide, Joseph Sylvester. Their main initiative was to open communication with the Beothuk and to procure an authentic history of this group. Cormack, again with indigenous guides from the Mi’kmaq, Innu and Abenaki First Nations, set out in Beothuk territory for the last remnants of the Beothuk Nation. Unable to find any Beothuk it was feared that these people were on the verge of extinction.

It was also the Beothuk Institute who took Shanawdithit from Exploits Island to St. John's. Here Cormack interviewed her and gave Shanawdithit the opportunity to tell the story of her people, through conversation and sketches which survive today. Without them, our understanding of the Beothuk people would lack greatly. Sadly Shanawdithit died in 1829, her last year being spent under the care of the Beothuk Institute. Appearing that this group was culturally extinct, it was felt there was no further need of the institution.

Beothuk Institute Revived in 1997

In 1997 the Beothuk Institute was revived based on the desire to create a statue of a Beothuk to pay respect to these people. The idea had spawned from a vision of Gerald Squires who saw a Beothuk woman, whom he  believed to be Shanawdithit, on one of his trips to his childhood home of Exploits Island.

In the past 20 years we have seen that vision come to life with the erection of the statue, Spirit of the Beothuk, at Boyds cove in 2000. Since then, we have been actively involved in D.N.A. research on Beothuk remains, commemorative plaques honouring Demasduit, Shanawdithit and Mi'kmaq guides, Joseph Sylvester and Mattie Mitchell.  Moving forward we see a need for Archaeological work on the Exploits River which holds much potential into a deeper understanding of the Beothuk people.

As Dr. Ralph Pastore said,

"It is time for us to get to know the Beothuk, to understand them as a people, not just a moment in our history. When future generations hear the word Beothuk, I hope that they will think of a vibrant thriving culture, truly connected to the land that we now inhabit."

Membership Fees Due for 2017

For members of the Beothuk Institute who have not yet paid the annual membership fee, we encourage you to do so at your earliest.

If you are not a member of the Beothuk Institute, why not join now!  As a volunteer organization, the advancement of our mission is made possible by membership and donations by people interested in the Beothuk people and their history.

Membership is open and all are welcome to join. We charge an annual membership fee of $15.00 per person. You must be a member to be part of the operations and decision-making of the Beothuk Institute. Fees are due annually and must be current if you wish to serve on the Board of Directors.

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