About us...

Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute is a museum, archive, library and a teaching centre.

ACCI flows from the knowledge that Cree culture must be captured, maintained, shared, celebrated, and practiced or it will wither and die. Cree Elders have spoken of the need for a central place for the protection of the way, and have developed a vision for Aanischaaukamikw over several decades.

Monday, March 2, 2015

"The Voyage of the Odeyak"


"The Voyage of the Odeyak"

“We may have inherited this land from our ancestors, but we have also borrowed it from our children.”

These compelling words were spoken by Matthew Coon Come on "Earth Day" April 22, 1990, the day that New Yorkers learned that 60 Cree & Inuit, travelling in a 24 foot craft named "The Odeyak" were at the end of a 1200 mile journey that began five weeks earlier on the Great Whale River on the east coast of Hudson's Bay.

The long journey was undertaken to raise awareness and gain support, both nationally and internationally, of the Cree-Inuit opposition to Quebec's Great Whale Hydro Electric Project "James Bay II." The Cree of Whapmagoostui and the Inuit of Kuujuaraapik united, organizing the voyage, for the sake of the land, for the sake of their children.

This initiative involved all of Eeyou Istchee with people from various communities helping with the planning, building of the Odeyak, and supporting the journey itself. Many leaders from Eeyou Istchee, including Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come, joined in the voyage. Other First Nations leaders and chiefs joined in the journey, and paddled alongside the Cree delegation. Many important environmental, activist, and political groups and organizations also gave their support to the Cree and Inuit cause.
The word “Odeyak” is taken from the Cree word for canoe “Ode” and the last part of the Inuit word “Kayak.” The Odeyak was built in Kuujuaraapik by Billy Weetaltuk, with great help from his daughter, Caroline, his two sons Morris & Redfern, and his Cree friend Andrew Natachequan. A large six metre, ten person, wood-canvas canoe with an Inuit kayak-style enclosed stern, the Odeyak made its journey from Whapmagoostui/Kuujuaraapik (Great Whale) James Bay all the way to the United Nations’ headquarters in New York City.

This unique canoe, this epic voyage, was part of a remarkable effort on the part of the Cree Nation, one that ACCI would like to honour, celebrate, and remember. We would like you to be a part of this event.

We’re planning a commemorative ceremony to celebrate the “25th Anniversary of The Voyage of The Odeyak”. We would like to extend a call for donations to all people out there who had a chance to witness, or who have family members who participated in “The Voyage of The Odeyak” in March & April of 1990.

Were you, or your family, part of the Odeyak’s journey? Do you have old Polaroid pictures, photos, home movies, souvenirs, newspaper clippings, tapes, letters, postcards or journals of the people who were a part of this epic journey, as part of your family’s personal archives at home?
If you like to take part, and donate/lend any type of pictures or footage to us at ACCI, there are 2 ways to do so:

You can donate originals/copies of the photos to the museum. The photos will be credited to you as a donor and preserved here at the museum.

Or, you can loan us photos, which will be digitized and returned to you. The photos will be credited to you as a donor and preserved here at the museum.

For more information on how to make a donation, please contact:
Lisa Petawabano, Archivist
418-745-2444 ext. 2018 or email

For more information on the upcoming event, please email or call us at: 418-745-2444.

 Follow us on Facebook for updates on this exciting event!

Addapting Brian Deer for the ACCI Library

Over the past year, ACCI has been working to adapt the Brian Deer Classification System for use in our library.  Most libraries in the western world use traditional classification systems like Dewey Decimal or Library of Congress (LOC), but we did not feel that this met our library’s needs.  Brian Deer is considered a non-traditional classification system, which is in many ways like Dewey or LOC.  It uses subjects to divide the books by topics, and uses numbers and letters to create call numbers (the numbers that help you identify each book).  

What is special about Brian Deer is the language that it uses to organise (or classify) the books.  The language is modern, traditional and more respectful to Indigenous people than the other classification systems.  Dewey and LOC both place ALL Aboriginal/Inuit/M├ętis topics under “History – Indians” even if the book was, for example, about the Idle No More movement, something that is a current and relevant part of social and political thinking.

By using Brian Deer we are making a conscious choice to use a non-traditional classification systems.  ACCI’s library is a subject based library, focused on the Cree of Eeyou Istchee, other Canadian Aboriginal/Inuit/Metis, and Indigenous groups from around the world.  We are using a system that we can adapt to fit our library needs rather than forcing our collection to fit into a structure that was not created for our kind of library.  We are choosing to use traditional names of groups and places for Indigenous people in Canada.

Over the next few weeks while we are starting to implement Brian Deer, we will be writing small posts to show our progress and discuss problems and difficulties that come up  as we work.  We hope that this will help encourage other indigenous libraries and cultural centres and show that this is a project that can be accomplished by their communities.

Written by Raegan Swanson

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

3rd Annual Family Weekend…A Great Success!

The 3rd Annual Family Weekend was a great success! 

On the first day we had close to 70 people join us for the whole afternoon.   The second day was just as popular.  In total we received over 150 people last weekend.  Those who attended experienced things that they’ve never before had the chance to see or do.

We invited nine (9) special guests to be with us for the whole weekend to transfer their traditional skills knowledge to all the participants that came to Aanischaaukamikw.  Elders Harry & Connie Bearskin and John & Beulah Crowe, from Chisasibi, brought their tools to make baby rattles, miniature snowshoes & carvings. From Mistissini, Emma Matoush taught participants to sew baby moccasins, and Elders Isaac & Sophie Coon taught participants the art of fishnet making.  Last but not least, Hattie Kitchen & Rene Blacksmith came to show us how to make baby moccasins and how to make your own crooked knife.

All the facilitators were excited to be with us and happy to be chosen as our facilitators this year.  Upon arrival, guests were enthusiastically welcomed by our staff members and provided with a schedule of the events and map of the museum.  They were also given the opportunity to participate in a tour of our building and exhibit with our tour guide.  Tours were given in Cree, English and French, and most participants decided to take advantage of the offer.

We had a number of different demonstration and experience booths open to visit during our family weekend.  Guests were invited to learn about the walking out ceremony and other rites of passage, fishnet making, baby rattles, traditional cooking recipes and traditional sewing.  Particularly popular was our Cree language booth where participants were taught to write their names in Cree.

Our young visitors had a great time at specially developed children’s stations and were able to do arts & crafts, have their faces painted, learn how to wrap a baby dolle in a traditional baby wrap called the “Washpsooyan”.  Kids also had a chance to dress up in the actual costumes used by the “Mind’s Eye” theatrical production!  It was really cute!

As usual, our archaeologist’s demonstrations and archeology display was one of our more popular offerings.  Participants were given hands on experience in flint knapping, fire starting with a bow, and were shown ancient artifacts and replications of ancient tools.  The archeologists were very busy on both days and really enjoyed transferring their knowledge to our visitors.

Food is an important part of every Cree celebration!  We also had the opportunity to eat traditional snacks every day and then enjoyed a feast cooked by our local cooks David & Nancy Bosum.  The food they prepared was so delicious: we had “shookamin” (fish & berries), “Iikoonaow” (bannock), “snookijam”(mixed jam & butter), “boudin” (boiled cake), “meensh iikoonaow” (blueberry bread) and other yummy snacks.  The feast was great: we ate goose, moose, bear, beaver & fish with other interesting side dishes.  The best dish was the “moose heart”, enjoyed by all. For many of our guests this offered them a first chance to enjoy our traditional foods and wild meats.

As part of our family weekend, we decided to honor a local family; Ryan Wapachee & Bethany Shecapio-Blacksmith were invited as our “Honorary Family” for the 3rd Annual Family Weekend.  They were chosen as honorary family to represent the many young families across Eeyou Istchee working hard to bring up young children in a modern world while ensuring that the remain close to their cultural heritage.  We were so happy that Ryan and Bethany were able to bring their two children and attend both days of our event.

Thank you to the ACCI staff for making this event a success and to our guests who came from near and far.  Thank you especially to our Elders who made this event such a special and enriching experience with the knowledge they shared throughout the weekend.

Written by  Ancita Bugden, Special Events and Gathering Coordinator

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

ACCI Celebrates Cree Day - November 11

39th Anniversary of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement 
This year marks the 39th anniversary of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement. It is important to honour the young Cree leaders that were asked by community elders to lead the fight during the negotiations of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement. Let’s extend our appreciation and respect to the dedicated and courageous Eeyou leaders who against tremendous odds fought for our rights in the 1970’s and let’s honour the Eeyou signatories of the JBNQA: Chief Billy Diamond 
Chief Robert Kanatewat 
Chief Fred Blackned 
Chief Matthew Shanush 
Chief Peter Gull 
Philip Awashish 
Smally Petawabano 
Chief Joseph Petagamaskum 
Chief Bertie Wapachee 
Abel Kitchen

On April 1, 1971, without consultation with the Eeyou of Eeyou Istchee, and without our consent, Premier Robert Bourassa announced the James Bay Hydroelectric Development Project describing it as “the project of the Century”. Eeyou/Eenouch immediately opposed the project and initiated court proceedings to stop the intrusion into Eeyou territory.  Since then, the unfolding of events that followed the announcement of hydroelectric development within Eeyou Istchee has dramatically changed the course and direction of Eeyou/Eenou history. 
The decision of Judge Malouf of the Quebec Superior Court in November 1973 resulted in an order to immediately stop to the construction of the James Bay Hydroelectric Development Project within the Cree territory.  Although the Quebec Court of Appeal overturned this judgment, Quebec and Hydro Quebec were obliged to negotiate with our people. The result of these negotiations was the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement signed on November 11, 1975—our Treaty and the basis for future successes. 

The signature of the JBNQA marked the beginning of our long journey towards the recognition of our rights, the dramatic improvement of the living conditions in our communities, the recognition of the requirement for Cree consent for any development in our traditional territory, the advancement of our system of governance and the continuation of our Cree way of life based on our special relationship with our traditional territory-–Eeyou Istchee.

Written by April Pachano, GCCEI/CNG 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Moose Break at the Museum

During the week of October 6 ACCI was closed to the public for Moose Break, but that doesn’t mean that museum-y things don’t happen. 

So, what really happens to a museum when it’s closed for a week?  

Well, sadly none of our artifacts come to life, but the Collections Staff sure do because being closed for such a long time means we can clean artifacts, move cases, and spruce up the exhibit for our visitors!

The ACCI Collection Staff welcomed the arrival of our new Conservator, Fiona Hernandez by asking her if we could clean our two largest artifacts.   But why clean artifacts that no one every touches you might ask, well because even just sitting there they get dirty!
Using soft brushes and special vacuums so we didn’t damage the wood, canvas and paint Fiona and I carefully removed dirt and debris from the canvas canoe on loan to us from the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec, before turning our attention to ACCI’s Odeyak. 


General cleaning in the gallery is also important to ensure that pests, especially bugs, don’t make their homes in and around the artifacts.  This means vacuuming every small space, cleaning cases and dusting all places both high, low, and in the middle.

To take a break from all of our cleaning, Staff were also able to move cases and objects to new locations.  Focusing on another large object in our display the Ceremonial Hide was removed from its case and set away in order to let the hide and natural dies rest in the dark. Museum staff do this to ensure that the materials are not exposed to damaging light for long periods of time which can cause pigments to fade.

Finally, with many hands and lots of heavy lifting the case was taken apart and will soon be moved to a new, surprise location!  So please stay tuned for its unveiling. 

A big thanks to all of our staff who helped during the week, and we hope everyone enjoyed their Moose Break!

-Written by Sharon Vance - Registrar