Joel Nathan Denny

August 23, 1952December 25, 2020

It is with broken hearts we announce the passing of our husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, brother, uncle, cousin and friend, Joel Nathan Denny Sr. (Beege), 68 of Malagawatch First Nation on December 25, 2020. Joel was the son of the late Noel R Denny & Sarah Johnson. He was a traditional Mi’kmaw Chanter, Dancer, Artist, musician and Pipe Carrier. He wrote a lot of Mi’kmaw traditional songs, has published two CD’s “The Denny Family” & Mi’kmaq Chants. He was instrumental in the revival of Mi’kmaw Chants & songs that are used among our people everywhere. The Denny Family brought the songs, chants, prayers, customs, traditions to the first powwow that was held at the “Noel R Denny Memorial Powwow Grounds in Eskasoni in 1992. Joel was a master in the making of the traditional Waltes “Atestaqnk”, wapnaqnk, medicines, drums, and regalias. In his earlier years he was a bricklayer & carpenter alongside with his dad & brother known as “Denny’s Brick & Stone”. Their work can be seen all over Cape Breton and parts of the Maritimes. Joel completed the masonary on the Malagawatch altar and cross and served at feasts & Masses alongside his family for over 40 years.

Joel performed across Canada, United States, UK, Mexico, Chile and sang for Queen Elizabeth & the Royal Family. He was a National Elder for Tourism Canada at the National level. He brought the National Dance Symposium to Eskasoni in 2003. He was also a founding board member of NSITEN. He was an actor for documentaries of CBC Spirit Wind, The Mi’kmaq Family, The Mi’kmaq Series (1978) and the movies Squanto. Joel was a writer for the Micmac News and dedicated his life researching our language for his final masterpiece “the Mi’kmaw Traditional Dictionary” honouring the teachings of his mom, dad, elders, & our Mi’kmaw language. He was awarded in 2018 with The Indigenous Musicians of the Year award from NS Indigenous tourism enterprise network & was nominated for the East Coast Music awards. In his spare time, Joel enjoyed karaoke, writing music, golfing, woodworking, and feeding animals & birds. He is survived by his wife Lisa; sons Jonathan (J.J.), Joel Jr. (Sarah), James (Vickie), Joshua (Emma), Richard (Baillie), Kiwnig (Hope), Pie’l, Dion (Megan), Kwimu (Ocean), Aluk (Ann) and Chase, daughters Sherisse (Quentin), Dr. Jesse Benjamin, Didies (Sheldon) siblings; Jessie, Mary Rose (Albert), Joan (Keith), Wilma (Noel Joe), Vivian, Melinda, Beverly, Kathy (Reg), Sheraine (Inkin); 30 grandchildren, 6 great-grandchildren, godchildren, many nieces & nephews; friends Cathy Martin, Anna Nibby-Woods, Ginette Aubin, Jericco Stevens, Adrian & Madeline Morris.

He was predeceased by his brother Richard, sisters Delena Sylliboy, Janice Paul & Beverly Teresa (infancy) and first wife Nancy.

Due to current COVID restrictions there will be no public visitation. Joel will be taken home to his family at 1 Birch Street, Eskasoni on Monday, Jan. 4th. Covid Restrictions will be strictly adhered to. Sacred Fire will be lit during, tobacco offerings will be accepted. Funeral arrangements & Cremation will take place at a later date.


  • Lisa, Wife
  • Jonathan (J.J.), Son
  • Joel Jr. (Sarah), Son
  • James (Vickie), Son
  • Joshua (Emma), Son
  • Richard (Baillie), Son
  • Kiwnig (Hope), Son
  • Pie’l, Son
  • Dion (Megan), Son
  • Kwimu (Ocean), Son
  • Aluk (Ann), Son
  • Chase, Son
  • Sherisse (Quentin), Daughter
  • Dr. Jesse Benjamin, Daughter
  • Didies (Sheldon), Daughter
  • Jessie, Sibling
  • Mary Rose (Albert), Sibling
  • Joan (Keith), Sibling
  • Wilma (Noel Joe), Sibling
  • Vivian,, Sibling
  • Melinda, Sibling
  • Beverly, Sibling
  • Kathy (Reg), Sibling
  • Sheraine (Inkin), Sibling
  • Noel R Denny & Sarah Johnson, Parents (deceased)
  • Richard, Brother (deceased)
  • Delena Sylliboy, Sister (deceased)
  • Janice Paul, Sister (deceased)
  • Beverly Teresa, Infant Sister (deceased)
  • Nancy, First Wife (deceased)
  • Joel is also survived by 30 grandchildren, 6 great-grandchildren, godchildren, many nieces & nephews; friends Cathy Martin, Anna Nibby-Woods, Ginette Aubin, Jericco Stevens, Adrian & Madeline Morris.


Joel Nathan Denny

have a memory or condolence to add?

Kateri Aubin Dubois

January 3, 2021

I have too many good memories to write them all down, but Joel was a great man full of knowledge and wisdom. I know a lot about my culture thanks to him. He was a great mentor and for that I am forever grateful. I will miss him very much.
So long nitap. May you rest in peace.

walter denny

January 3, 2021

My condolences to the family. Meskeywit No’kmaw Beej,
Kesaluloq kokmanaq,
Ni’n, Walter Jown.

Bridget Smith

January 3, 2021

My heartfelt condolences to the family. Rest In Peace, Beej.

Darlene Bernard

January 3, 2021

Dear Lisa and family,
It is with a sad heart that I express my sincere sympathy to you and your family at this so very sad and difficult time. I met Joel on Lennox Island approximately 3 years ago at a language camp that was offered through our Cultural Center. Before I attended this workshop I didn’t believe that I would ever understand or have any hope of learning my language, but Joel changed my view with his gift of teaching and his profound understanding of our language and our traditions. Joel helped me to turn the light bulb on and I was able to see a path forward to the protection and practise of our language and traditions. For this I am forever grateful! Joel taught me that our language is beautifully descriptive and that our ancestors described everything they saw and created so I was able to learn and better understand our language structure for the first time and that our proud history is hidden in our language ;that is why we need to learn and practise it and teach our kids and all people about who we are!
Joel’s death is a tremendous loss to the Mikmaq Nation! Our deepest condolences. May he Rest In Peace
Chief Darlene Bernard

Shirley Prosper

January 3, 2021

My Condolences to the family RIP Joel

Wanda finigan

January 2, 2021

My sincere condolences to Joels family and friends.