Thursday, April 25, 2013
We have a wonderful visit from some of the ministers from the Quebec Government.
Minister of Health and Social Services
Minister responsible for Seniors
Minister responsible for the Estrie region
Minister for Public Health and Youth Protection
Minister responsible for
the Lanaudière region
Minister for Aboriginal Affairs
Thank you to the Chairperson of Cree Heath Board, Bella Petawabano, Diane Ried, President of ACCI and Abel Bosum, Cree Negotiator for make this a memorable visit.
Monday, April 15, 2013
Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute was recently invited to attend the Jackie Gull Memorial Pipun Eeyou Eetouwin in Waswanipi. We were absolutely delighted with the hospitality and kindness shown towards us from everyone involved in this event. Upon our arrival in Waswanipi we were invited for a feast where we were served bannock, rabbit stew, moose stir fry, moose tongue and moose intestine. All food was prepared on open fires in teepees at the cultural village by an extremely knowledgeable and friendly group of elders. As we sat around, sampling some of the most delicious and exquisite food, laughter and stories filled the lunch time conversation. Being welcomed with this form of hospitality was truly a remarkable experience.
We quickly set up our table and met with residents from the Cree Nation of Waswanipi. Virtual tours of our exhibit were shown; books and information from our Library and Archives were on display; and people came to view our collection of videos. As day turned to evening, the excitement grew as we prepared to show “The Cree Hunters of Mistassini”, a film that follows 3 families living in the bush for the winter months while they live a traditional lifestyle. The turnout was exceptional and all in attendance enjoyed seeing the film.
On the following day Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute staff returned to show the same film to the local elders. When the film started, laughter filled the air, and when it was over, the conversation amongst the audience was all about living a traditional lifestyle and memories were shared for all to hear.
ACCI would sincerely like to thank Diane Cooper, Alex Moses and the Elders of Waswanipi for inviting and allowing our staff to participate in this wonderful event.
From March 15 to 17, CNACA held their first festival in Val d’Or and ACCI was present at this event. There was an abundance of talented artists in attendance at the festival. Tim Whiskeychan, one of the most respected artists in Eeyou Istchee, showed many curious visitors some of his unique painting techniques. There were crafts people showcasing their works, from moccasins to mittens, from paintings to tamarack birds. The level of craftsmanship was outstanding.
To top it all off, at the awards ceremony, Flaming Fire, Willie Dunn, Ceremony, and Mariame Hasni all performed. The Arts and Crafts celebration was an outstanding success. The amazing performances and the talents showcased are testament to the bright future of the arts in Eeyou Istchee.
On Wednesday March 20, Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute hosted another Movie Night showing “Cold Journey” starring Eeyou Istchee’s own Buckley Petawabano. Mr. Petawabano was kind enough to record a message that was played before the start of the film. He spoke of his time making the film and the work that came, such as the TV series “Rainbow Country”. ACCI would like to thank Mr. Petawabano for taking the time to record such a heartfelt and meaningful message.
“Cold Journey” is a story about a young boy trying to fit into two very different worlds. His family remains on the reserve and survives by hunting, trapping and fishing. The main character struggles between the lifestyle and traditions of a young Native man and the residential school system imposed by the government. Similarly, while being drawn to a traditional lifestyle, Buckley was required to attend a residential school himself and so was able to relate to the main character of the movie.
Even with such a serious topic, there were moments that had those in attendance laughing. In one scene, the main character shoots a gun in the house of the family he boarded with, highlighting cultural differences in a humorous way with the line, “Indians don’t have loaded guns in the house”. The driving skills displayed after the main character “borrowed” a skidoo from the skidoo shop were exceptionally exciting and brought some chuckles from the audience.
ACCI was happy to present this film just before Mr. Buckley Petawabano was officially recognized for all the years of service to Eeyou Istchee at the Cree Native Arts and Crafts (CNACA) Festival. Not only is Mr. Petwabano an actor and a cinematographer, but he was also instrumental in the creation of the James Bay Cree Communications Society. Mr. Petawabano was given the Cree Legend Award by CNACA at their awards ceremony on Saturday March 16, 2013. As a deserving recipient of this award, Mr. Petawabano was given a standing ovation as he was recognized by his fellow artists. ACCI would like to congratulate Mr. Petawabano on this well-deserved honour.
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
ACCI had a real treat before the Christmas holidays; we had a wonderful young lady, Paula Menarick, come to and work on-site for an entire week on replicating a beaded hood. The amount of work that she put into this project was absolutely incredible. The beads that she worked with were so small, the details in her stitching were exceptionally precise, and the care that was put into her work was something to admire. We are very happy that Paula was able to make the time to work on this extraordinary piece for us.
The beaded hoods that we have on display are beautiful. They symmetry, detail, and precision of work in the bead patterns is something that is a must see when visiting Aanischaaukamikw. The beads that were used were so incredibly small; we were worried that the needle might be too large for the beads themselves! Much of the knowledge about beaded hoods, from the use of them to knowing how to make them, is no longer passed from generation to generation in Eeyou Istchee. Aanischaaukamikw has done a large amount of research with Elders about the use of the beaded hoods and having a hood replicated at Aanischaaukamikw provided a unique insight into the process of making a hood. Watching an artist demonstrate how to place these tiny beads on a needle and then attach them to fabric, we were brought closer to our ancestors with every stitch.
Paula’s mother calls her “sewing with a passion” and, in watching her sew, one can see why. As she spoke, it was evident that sewing and beading are where her passion in life comes from. Paula not only juggles taking care of a family and a demanding nursing career, but she also finds time for sewing every day.
Her memories of sewing with her aunts, grandmother, and mother filled the conversation throughout the week. These people were influential in her life; they passed on their skills to her so that she could continue a tradition. “Just thinking of the good times that I had while sewing” is what makes Paula smile. There must have been many fond memories, as she smiled the entire week!
She first started learning her craft when she was 6 years old. Her aunt started her out on the bead loom, as it was the easiest thing for her at such a young age. Her mother postponed teaching until Paula was 11 when she had a bit more dexterity; this was when she learned how to weave dream catchers. Her grandmothers taught her sewing, and to this day she says she is still learning. It is hard to imagine that with her talent, she still needs to learn. Paula is able to pass on her artistic abilities to her daughter, so the family tradition of sharing this talent is still strong in her home. When asked if she would teach her daughter how to make a beaded hood, she responded with a “definitely!”
Rob Imrie, Coordinator of Education
Thursday, February 21, 2013
The First Movie Night at the Museum
On Wednesday February 20, 2013 Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute held its first Movie Night at the Museum. We were proud to present the documentary “The Cree Hunters of Mistassini” to an enthusiastic crowd. The film follows the lives of 3 families as they set up their winter camp. This film was made in the early 1970’s and was released in 1974. “The Cree hunters of Mistassini” won the award for best documentary over 30 minutes at the Canadian Film Awards.
There was a great deal of laughter from the audience and all guests were pleased with what they had seen in the film. We had a special guest with us for the evening; Eddie Jolly, a local Ouje-Bougoumou resident, featured in the film. Mr. Jolly spoke about his experiences on living in the bush and having a film crew around during the making of this film. One thing for certain is that by the time all guests went home, there had been a great deal of discussion on living a traditional way of life.
Our plan at ACCI is to show a film or documentary once every three weeks that in some way celebrates an aspect of Cree life, whether it is hunting, music, culture in general or even films with Cree actors. There are a lot of great stories to be told and shared.
For those that missed the evening you can click on the link below and watch this wonderful documentary.
Photo: Eddie Jolly from Mistissini/Ouje-Bougoumou. Mr. Jolly was featured in the documentary.
The next Movie Night is March 13, 2013 at 7 p.m. (tbc)
Monday, January 14, 2013
Days 15 and 16 of the Heritage Preservation Project!
We rounded out the calendar year with trips to our neighbouring communities Waswanipi and Mistissini.
In Waswanipi we visited Cultural Coordinator Diane Cooper at the riverside location of the Waswanipi Culture Department. Diane’s previous museum training means she is well aware of the different risks to heritage collections. Insects are common threats, feasting on the proteins available in hides and furs. And strong light and UV radiation can cause fading and deterioration. Diane takes different measures to protect the collections in her care. To kill off active insect attacks, she places the affected artefacts in the freezer. To prevent light damage, she moves artefacts to darker areas of the building or places them under covers. Specialized knowledge is necessary so that freezing and shading are carried out in the correct way with artefact-safe materials.
Diane Cooper showing us a moose hide top that suffered some light damage in the past. The top is now kept out of direct sunlight, under a cover.
Diane Cooper holding up a stretched beaver pelt with a moth problem, destined for treatment in the freezer.
We enjoyed looking at all of the artefacts, art works and photographs currently on display in the building, and then toured other spaces in the community which may become the new home for the Culture Department in the future. Safety and environmental protection are top priorities for Diane in her evaluation of the spaces, as is adequate room for the storage and display of artefacts. We look forward to hearing about future plans for the Culture Department.
Our second stop in Waswanipi was at the Cree Trappers Association, where we interviewed Fur Officer Paul Dixon. After looking at some recently purchased furs, Paul revealed to us his detailed recordkeeping system, through which he not only tracks fur purchases and sales, but the conditions on the trap lines and changes to the animal populations. In addition to these valuable records, Paul collects issues of the Nation magazine. Both of these collections deserve protection, and Paul was interested in hearing our recommendations for long-term care of paper materials, including using acid-free storage sleeves, folders and boxes to support the items and delay acidic discolouration and deterioration. Of course, Paul is mastering the first rule of preservation – collect!
Paul Dixon, showing us just one of his collections – boxes of back-issues of the Nation magazine.
Our site visits have ended, and we are now home in Ouje-Bougoumou. Stay tuned for announcements of next ventures of the Heritage Preservation Project on the ACCI website!