Cultural Coordinator Message
It is my pleasure to report activities from the office of the Cultural Affairs Coordinator of Mistissini, for the period of April 1st, 2012 to March 31st, 2013.
The Aanischaaukamikw Grand-Opening
The Aanischaaukamikw has opened its doors in June 2012 offering exhibitions and the opportunity to learn of our traditional ways. This followed by a grand celebration from June 7-9, 2012. All Cree communities were invited to showcase their crafts and to promote our culture. The cultural office invited elders and artisans to represent Mistissini
Archaeology research on the Rupert River diversion area
The Advisory committees consists the four Cree communities affected by the Rupert River diversion; Mistissini, Eastmain, Nemaska, and Waskaganish. Each Cultural Coordinator plus three elders sit as advisors on this committee.
Since 2006 archaeology research was conducted along the Rupert River. Some artefacts recovered proved to be more than 5,000 years old. To showcase these findings, the archaeology program has held travelling exhibitions and visited educational institutions in Cree Communities. It was a pleasure to witness and to be part of this. In November 2012, the Archaeology team has moved its office from Val d’Or to Aanischaaukamikw in Ouje-Bougoumou. The artefacts will now be housed at the Cultural Center and will be displayed there.
CRA and Hydro Quebec archeologists have started to compile the results of their findings. Work has started to produce Cree books for educational purposes. The artefacts they found will be stored in Quebec and books summarizing the discoveries are in preparation. The plan is for Advisory committee is to review the documents before final publications and reports.
A memorial monument is currently being prepared on Walter Jolly’s trap line near Nemaska. The area was selected because it is on the main canoe travelling routes used by our ancestors. The location allows a view of the main flooded area. This monument is meant to commemorate traditional Cree life.
Aboriginal Day celebrationAside from day to day at Cultural office, special events have been held throughout the year to promote traditional teachings. The first event, Aboriginal Day celebration, was held on June 20 and 21, 2012. The youth department and Community Wellness teams helped enormously with the two day event.
The day started with a Walking out Ceremony, followed by Cultural displays and activities. All events were held at the track and field. We would like to thank to the Recreation Department who took part in organization of the celebrations and for the use of the track and field. There were five teepees installed. One was occupied by an elder who provided teachings to students from Voyageur Memorial School. At the end of the day, a feast was held to honor the children that celebrated their Walking Out with the community. A fiddle dance was held afterwards.
The next day an Arm Wrestling competition was held. The Mistissini Arm Wrestling team were given the mandate to supervise the wrestling matches. The team did great hosting this event. Other events included a scavenger hunt where the participants had to seek traditional tools. For lunch, on both days, venders were invited to setup and sell traditional food only. Another popular event consisted in canoe races organized by the Youth Council.
This two day event was very successful. We received positive feedback from people who commented on how much they enjoyed the events. The event ended that evening with a concert by local talented musicians.
The Traditional Gathering ‘Maamuiteusiitaau’The Traditional Gathering ‘Maamuiteusiitaau’ marked its 18th year of our annual gathering. This gathering takes place at Kamitsteu- miituskach which is about 10-15 minute boat ride up the lake. The gathering took place from august 16, 2012 to august 23, 2012. The yearly event was made possible by the generous contribution from the Cree Nation of Mistissini and Niskamoon Corporation.
On July 16, 2012 seven people were recruited to prepare and clean the traditional campsite. All the workers performed an excellent job. The shorelines were cleaned and docks were put in place. Minor renovations were done on older tent frames. Boughs were picked, firewood were chopped and of appliances for the kitchen were transportation to the site. Altogether, we now have 25 dwellings for the elders.
The purpose of Maamuiteusiitaau is to promote our way of life, to ensure the survival of our culture and our heritage. The general consensus was that everyone who attended this gathering enjoyed their time. The elders especially, really appreciated this annual gathering. It is a great opportunity for them to share their knowledge, teach and tell stories heard from their parents. Elders provided skills, culture and traditional values to our young people. While attending these gatherings, the elders are reminded of their past hardships and triumphs and they are always ready share their stories.
This gathering also promotes social harmony, love, unity and peace among all community members. This is also an opportunity to strengthen our Cree language, values and to come and work together as a community.
The Elders GatheringIn addition, it was decided to hold an Elders Gathering from August 9 to August 15, 2012. Workers were recruited to ensure everything was ready for the elders.
TRANSFER OF KNOWLEDGE FROM OUR ELDERS
The Local Elders council’s mandate is to provide vision, guidance, advise, recommendation and information to the community leaders, entities and/or individuals with respect to traditional knowledge, cultural teaching skills, traditional values and principles. The Elders Council now has a full-time temporary Administrator Mrs. Mary Matoush came into the office early in the New Year. Mrs. Matoush does an excellent job working with the elders and with the projects the council has.
The Local Elders Council consists of (11) eleven members and are as follows;
Sam Petawabano, Chairman Pat Petawabano, Member
Elizabeth Coon-come, vice Chairperson Mary Macleod, Member
Edna Neeposh, Member Alfred Coon-Come, Member
Sandy Matoush, Member Harriet Coon-Come
Harriet Matoush, Member Annie Neeposh, Member
Peter Shecapio, Member
The Elders meet regularly to discuss important issues arising from the community. They are available to assist the Chief and Council and are advisors, supporters and mediators to various issues that concern the community. They act as our main teachers and guides to our children, youth and adults. The elders bring health, harmony and hope the betterment of the people in Mistissini.
The elders are involved in the traditional medicine research in collaboration with the wellness division department of the Cree Nation of Mistissini and the Cree Health Board.
The office of the culture Department also oversees the local Elders Council and its projects and the Genealogy department.
During the years, stories of elders have been collected and will be documented and made available to schools where our young can learn from our elders. In the future more work needs to be done to share these stories with the public. An other project was the making of a moose hide preparation documentary video. This video shows how to prepare and clean moose hide. It also includes the final process of tanning it.
BEDABIN PROJECTThe local Elders Council has been active with projects this past year. The Bedabin continued from the past year. Bedabin Project is to provide awareness of elder abuse. During the community Wellness Week, a day was set to raise awareness on the issues of abuse, supper was provided and some games afterwards. Presently, questionnaires are developed to further develop ways to decrease elder abuse.
WEECHADOWCH CHAINOU PROJECTThis year Local Elders council had a new project. This funding was granted from the Cree Regional Authority under the Elders Agreement Funding of the CRA. This program was able to recruit an assistant to work closely with the Elders Council administrator. Mrs. Catherine Mianscum was hired in September of 2012. She has done an excellent job in her responsabilities of assisting the Local Elders Council. This project was beneficial for the Elders who have camps near Mistissini area. Wood sheds were built and firewood was provided. Chimney cleaning and snow removals around their camps was also provided. Also, five cook tents were built close to where elders live, these were meant to be shared with their neighbors. The Elders are responsible to look after the cook tents and clean up.
Also, at the Chanoo Mistuuk (Elders Island) camps were set and build, this is specifically for elders only. This is so that once again the Island can be occupied as did back then. Each summer elders would live to fish during the summertime and would live at the island.
ANNUAL ELDERS BANQUET-December 2012The annual Christmas Elders banquet was held on December 13, 2012. It coordinated by the Local elders Council. This year a different approach was taken where ‘Adopt an Elder’ program was introduced. This is during the busy time of the year, the community was involved in the annual Elders banquet, people adopted an elder by picking a name of elder and ensuring that a present be brought for the banquet. This was a success. Catherine Mianscum and Mary Matoush took care of the planning of this special event.
GENEALOGY PROJECTThe Genealogy project is on a year-to-year basis. Charlie Mianscum and Bert Mettaweskum are the two temporary full-time workers in this project. The mission of this project is to conduct and process family trees of all Mistissini Cree as far back as possible. The success of this project will take the participation of members and especially the elders of the community.
This genealogy work of the Mistissini Cree is vital to provide family tree information for school projects or for various researches. There is research to be conducted still. Research takes a slow and thorough process. Different elders are interviewed. Documents are really secured and this takes time for researchers to speed research. Constant research by interviewing community members is done. We know now where the documents are kept. The employees will continue to gather information needed to complete the reports especially with the 1950s documents. An important factor to keep in mind is every so often the genealogy information will have to be updated because the population is growing.