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Cree Fiddlers at Aanischaaukamikw

This past weekend was a hit!  ACCI
had another movie night, and what a night it was!  We presented a really interesting film
called: “The Fiddlers of James Bay” which is about two talented fiddlers, Ray
Spencer and Bob McLeod.  These men were
famous in Eeyou Istchee for their outstanding playing ability. They were never
formally trained; but, as was the tradition in their families, they learned to
play from their fathers and grandfathers. This tradition originated in the 17th
century with the onset of the fur trade. Fiddles made the journey across the
Atlantic when fur traders from Scotland came to James Bay, and this new type of
music was quickly adopted into Cree Culture. The film, released in 1980,
follows Ray Spencer and Bob McLeod as they travel to the Orkney Islands in
Scotland to play with an orchestra and highlights the amazing talent that these
two fiddlers had.  Their playing style
reflects an Eeyou twist on the traditional Scottish style.

To say that fiddle music is alive and well
in Eeyou Istchee is an understatement! For this Movie Night, ACCI invited two
fiddlers, Byron Jonah from Waskaganish and Johnny Jolly from Mistissini, to
dazzle the crowd with their playing abilities in place of the usual discussion
period after the movie.  The day started
off by having our guests teach children and adults the basics of playing the
fiddle.  All had a wonderful time and one
person made the comment that “I am going to play at my daughter’s weddingnow”.
This was an educational experience for many children for whom handling a fiddle
and learning how to play with one was a new experience all together. We at ACCI
were extremely happy to introduce people to playing the fiddle and inspire
future fiddlers during the afternoon session.

After the movie was over, our fiddlers
played for the crowd and they put on a stunning performance! Not only were the
halls at ACCI filled with music, it was heard beyond and floated out of the
building into the surrounding community. As a result, many stopped in to see
what was happening. We soon doubled the size of the audience and those who
hesitated to dance at the beginning of the show, no longer needed to wait for
others to come and dance. Most of the audience were up on their feet dancing,
smiling and laughing after a few songs.

Fiddle music is as popular today and as
much a tradition today as it was when first adopted into our culture.  Based on the attendance and participation in this event, it looks as though there are plenty of future fiddle players in
development, so we can be assured that there will be many more nights filled
with dancing, laughter and fiddle music in the years to come in Eeyou Istchee!

ACCI would really like to thank everyone who helped
make this event the success that it was. 
Without generous support from the Board of Compensation, AirCreebec, and
the Cultural Department of Ouje-Bougoumou, this event would never have
happened.  Meegwetch! CHIINASKUUMITIN!