November 22, 23
& 24 saw Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute host its 2nd
annual “Family Weekend” and what a weekend it was. There were visitors from all over Eeyou
Istchee that came to see Aanischaaukamikw and the events that happened
throughout the weekend.
Two elders, Nancy
Snowboy and Elizabeth Cookish, came from Chisasibi to show off their sewing
skills and help any interested onlookers with their sewing skills. Being from a coastal community, the two
elders have access to different furs to sew with than what is normally used in
Ouje-Bougoumou. Many of their mittens were
made using seal skins. Just from looking
at them, these mittens must be extremely warm in the winter months and they
definitely keep your hands dry during spring.
Hopefully some of our visitors were inspired by their work and
incorporate some of the coastal designs into their sewing.
came to share some legends and stories that he was told as a child. Mr. Neeposh is an incredible story teller; he
has the ability to capture the imagination of everyone around him when he
speaks. His story about the boy and the
bear and why it is important to respect traditions and advice from others
proved to be a valuable life lesson to all who listened. He also told stories of when he was a boy
living in the bush with his parents and all the knowledge he acquired while
growing up. He expressed the importance of keeping these teachings strong by
passing them down to our own children and future generations. It was such a
pleasure having him here with us.
There was a
place for younger children as well; many of our visitors took the time to play
with their children. Playing with beads
was a hit among children and many left with beaded bracelets, necklaces & key
chains. After seeing the colour schemes
of the new found jewelry, and while there is much to learning about the art of
beading, it is clear that there are many future artisans in Eeyou Istchee. Of course painting children’s faces is always
a hit, many of the children that came during the weekend had traditional
designs from caribou jackets painted on their faces. We’d like to thank Esther
Simard, for her time & artwork displayed on their faces. They were all
proud of their painted faces when leaving the play area.
Regional Authority archaeologists were involved in demonstrating the art of
flint knapping and starting fires using traditional techniques. Making arrowheads, scrappers and knives is a
difficult task at the best of times. It
requires patience, precision and a great deal of knowledge in how to shape your
rock. Thinking back when this type of
activity was routinely done, it really highlights how ingenious people were
centuries ago. Many of the visitors
that attended the weekend were amazed at how sharp a piece of rock could
become, jaws dropped after seeing a piece of rock slice through a piece of
leather like an X-Acto knife.
Cree Cultural Institute was very fortunate to have our special guest, James
Kawapit Sr. from Whapmagoostui come for the weekend and play the Cree
traditional drum for all to hear. The
drum has been played throughout Eeyou Istchee since time immemorial, and this
was a perfect opportunity to expose those who have yet to hear the drum. Mr. Kawapit sang songs to the bear to wish
for a good hunt; to thank God for all the animals & creation; to the women
of Eeyou Istchee; to the caribou that roam the land; the sun that rises, gives
us light and sets everyday & last but not least, to the youth of the Cree
Nation. He also took the time to speak about his history with the drum and his
feelings when singing and playing.
Weekend presented the idea of transferring knowledge from Elders to Youth, from
Father to Son, and Mothers to daughters.
Listening to stories, playing, watching others sew, and hearing songs
and the drum play were all ways to transfer some of the traditional knowledge
that continues to be such an integral part of the Cree culture today. After seeing many of the faces in attendance
this weekend, there are many that learned something new and are now new
carriers of traditional knowledge.