Previously Held Activities (2009)
Local Elders Council
The Elders Council of Mistissini meets regularly to discuss important community issues. It provides “vision, guidance, advice, recommendations and information to community leaders, entities and/or individuals with respect to traditional knowledge, cultural teachings/skills, traditional values and principles....The Elders are available to assist the Chief and Council, as well as being advisors, supporters and mediators with regards to various issues concerning the community. As our main teachers and guides, the Elders bring health, harmony and hope for the betterment of the people of Mistissini. They are also involved in traditional medicine research in collaboration with the Community Wellness Division and Culture Department of the Cree Nation of Mistissini and the Cree Health Board.” 1
Program to Combat Bullying
“There's a lot of bullying at school,” said Mary Voyageur, cultural coordinator in Mistissini, “so I looked for money to start a program to deal with it. It took about a year to get the funding. We felt the best way to help high-risk kids was to do something in the schools where all children, including the bullies, would have no choice but hear the message.”
The message is delivered by the elders who go to the elementary school and high school, into the classrooms, to speak to the students about traditional Cree values, about respect and obedience. They have found that the children are receptive and that message is making a difference. The elders are now hoping that the program can be expanded to include the parents.
In the meantime, posters with a similar message are being put up in the arena and in other public places.
Fall and Winter Elders' Teachings Programs
This program was initiated several years ago, with monies from the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, to help recuperate traditional skills that were lost due to all the years people spent in residential schools.
At a traditional lodge – a winter cabin made from logs – located eight kilometres from the community, elders teach people about making snowshoes, snowshoe weaving, sewing, embroidery and beadwork, as well as how to clean and tan animal hides. And, if people are interested in learning other techniques, they will teach them too.
The fishing project is another activity the elders do at kilometre eight. Here they teach people all the steps involved in winter fishing, from setting the nets under the ice, to cleaning and preparing the fish. The activity culminates in a free meal for community members at the lodge.
Also at kilometre eight, is a traditional tent – a makii – the culture department makes available to people in the community who would like to get away for a little winter break. “People can go there to roast meat and picnic and sleep there. I get it ready for them: I open it up and put boughs on the floor and get wood,” said Mary. “All they have to do is clean up afterwards!”
Local Winter Games
The Culture Department participates in the Local Winter Games, which is organized by the Recreation Department.
Father and Son(s) Caribou Hunting Excursion
In order to foster bonds between fathers and sons, and to encourage the transmission of knowledge about hunting, an excursion was organized to the Route du Nord to hunt caribou. “We want to do this again,” said Mary Voyageur, “because the program was very well received.”
Culture Day, March 16, 2009
As part of the Community Wellness Week - held from March 16-20, 2009 - the Culture Department and Chishienuu Chiskutamaachiwin2 worked together to organize activities for March 16th, Culture Day. To show-case our culture, we presented a display of arts and crafts, sewing, moose-hide cleaning and wood carving. There was also a community cook-out. Another highlight of the day was the arrival home of the participants of the annual Wellness Journey, who were greeted with a warm welcome.
Cree Nation of Mistissini – Social Committee
The Culture Department assisted the Social Committee with a one-day activity that included culture games like a scavenger hunt with Cree syllabics, and outdoor races. Activities were followed by a traditional meal.
Suumertime at the Point
During the summer, the elders conduct their activities at the point, where the Hudson's Bay Company post was, where there are now six canvas-covered miichiwaahp.
Maamuuteusiitaau – Summer Gathering
Mistissini's annual traditional summer gathering is now held at a new location, at Kaa-mitisteukaach, about ten minutes from the community.
There's a small interpretation centre in the motel in Mistissini, with a display containing various items: vest, drum, tools, a crooked knife.... “It's very nice,” said Mary, “but it's starting to bother me. Since I've been taking my course [for a diploma in Aboriginal Heritage Interpretation], I can see a problem with the environmental conditions. There's too much light so the things made from hide are becoming discoloured.
In addition to the display, each of the bedrooms in the motel is named after a Mistissini family, the name of the family mounted on a plaque by the door, with information about the origin of the name and photographs of the family.
Cultural coordinator: Mary Voyageur
Visit our website at: Cree Nation of Mistissini