“I'm very busy serving and assisting community members, local trappers and the elderly through various programs and projects,” said Jim Blackned, director of Nemaska's culture and special projects department. “The participation of our children and youth is a valuable element... in our programs on culture, heritage and traditions. It is also very important to involve our elders and trappers in the promotion of our way of life. My department supports efforts to create employment opportunities and hands-on experiences in which the elders pass on traditional knowledge handed down from their ancestors. I acknowledge all the elders. Their wisdom and guidance have helped us preserve our language, culture and traditions.”
Feast Welcoming the Trappers Back to the Community
In the month of June the trappers return to the community from the land. They are greeted by fellow community members with a feast.
Summer Gathering at Old Nemaska - Weskach Nemaska – and Log Cabin Renovation
In July the community gathers at the Old Nemaska, Weskach Nemaska. So important is Old Nemaska to our people that we have declared it an historic site and are engaged in a program of reconstruction of the family houses, as they were in the 1960s, before we were forced to abandon the place. “We are slowly restoring the place,” said George Wapachee, Nemaska's director of operations. “People like to come here as a second home. Everybody needs a change of focus....” People come to socialize, and to play traditional and non-traditional games. A fishing derby and canoe races are held. There are checkers and cribbage tournaments, and target shooting and log sawing competitions.
Coming back here is like coming back to our old ways,” said Thomas Jolly. “We can go into anyone’s house. Our kids can run free.” Fresh sturgeon and moose meat hang from the rafters over open fires. Geese suspended above smoldering coals twirl around. And, roasting by the fire is bannock pressed around the ends of sticks. “It’s like paradise,” said one former resident, “You’ll wonder why we ever left.”1
During this time there are “community culture-related activities, sculptures and an outdoor display of camps.”
During the winter festival, trappers “display their skills to community members, different traditional and modern games are played, and the children are taken on their first snowshoe walk. The event finishes with a feast.”
Weekend Canoe Excursion
Temporary Shaapuhtuwaan Project
Moose/Caribou Hide Training
Cultural coordinator: Deborah Wapachee
Visit our website at: Cree Nation of Nemaska
- 1. Old Nemaska Days. The Nation. July 17, 1998 (All the quotes in the section about the summer gathering at Old Nemaska are from this article.)