Quebec’s Aboriginal People – Meeting the Crees: by Inês Lopes
Written by ines January 04th
This week, I invite you to discover the Crees and their history, which is spread over thousands of years; and their rich culture, which is still evolving. This entry is a part of the series entitled “Quebec’s Aboriginal People”.
Photo Credit:Quebec Aboriginal Tourism Corporation
The Crees – A Few Words on Their History and Territory
Originally from western Canada’s plains, the Crees have lived in the Bay James area for approximately 5,000 years. Between the boreal forest and the taiga, this region is not very favourable to agriculture. This people thus developed its hunting, trapping and fishing techniques. Protecting the environment is also very much valued. As many other nations, they took part in fur trade. In the mid-1970s, they had to negotiate with the federal and provincial governments concerning hydroelectric development in the region. This major change, on top of previous compulsory schooling, the construction of permanent housing and the decline of the fur trade, changed their lifestyle.
Current Population, Language and Culture
Nowadays, around 13,000 Crees live in nine communities of northern Quebec. The most recent, Oujé‑Bougoumou, received a UN prize for its architecture combining tradition and modernity. Other Crees live in Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Cree is still spoken by the majority of the nation and English is their second language. More teens are also learning French. In Cree art, moose skin clothing decorated with pearls and embroidery, are particularly remarkable. Their larch decoys are also renowned.
Tourism Among the Crees: The Example of the Waskaganish Community
Waskagansih means “little house” in Cree and refers to the description ancestors made of trading posts. A short walk will bring you to the Rupert River and to the original fur trading post, used for almost 300 years. If you are adventurous, it is possible to paddle up to the islands in a canoe, accompanied by an experienced guide who is familiar with the water and the characteristics of the area. Photographers will also find their niche in this place, one of the main migration routes for birds in North America. Whatever activity you want to participate in, it is important to do so in harmony with nature. The Cree tourism Web site suggests the following precautions: do not litter, leave no trace behind, respect people’s private life and ask for their permission before taking their picture, make sure you have permission before entering any territory or practising any activity, and respect Cree objects and historical sites you encounter.
Photo Credits:Quebec Aboriginal Tourism Corporation
Next week, in the last blog entry for this series entitled “Quebec’s Aboriginal People”, we will be meeting the Innus.