Aanischaaukamikw, the Cree Cultural Institute located in Oujé-Bougoumou, one of the 10 Cree communities that form the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee in Northern Quebec, is this year’s recipient of the Canadian Museums Association’s highly prestigious Award of Outstanding Achievement in Education for its project Mind’s Eye: Stories from the Heart of Eeyou Istchee.
This theatrical production traveled some 3500 kilometers in March 2014 throughout the Cree territory in Quebec, performing in schools in both coastal and inland communities. More than 2000 people viewed this very powerful play, directed by Cree playwright Shirley Cheechoo and performed by young Cree actors.
Dr. Sarah Pashagumskum, Director of Programs for Aanischaaukamikw, explains: “This recognition, from our peers in the museum, education, and arts communities of Canada, makes receiving the award an extremely special moment in the life of this new institution.”
“When Aanischaaukamikw opened in 2012, it was the completion of the extraordinary vision of our Elders, and has been realized through the partnership of the Crees, governments, and the private sector. While the Institute itself is physically located in Oujé-Bougoumou, the work of Aanischaaukamikw is derived from, and is expressed in, all the communities of Eeyou Istchee, and “Mind’s Eye” is a wonderful expression of what we are all about: protecting, preserving, and passing on the richness of our stories, our ways, and our culture.”
Upon bestowing this prestigious award to Aanischaaukamikw, the Canadian Museums Association stated, “The excellence of this project lies in its innovative use of live theatre to communicate oral history to new audiences. For many, it changed their perception of heritage since they had never seen a play of this kind before. It resulted in strengthened communications between the youth and elders. The Jury was unanimous in recognizing that your submission met all of the Association’s criteria for outstanding achievement.”
The Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute is a 30,000 square-foot museum and cultural centre, and is the James Bay Crees’ primary location for preservation of documents, media, and physical objects, designed for preservation, conservation, and knowledge transfer.