A Walk Through Generations' To Tour Cree Communities, Then Canadian
photo that will be included in Footprints: A Walk Through
Generations, an upcoming exhibit about the role of walking
as a way of life and survival for the Crees of Quebec. (Nishiiyuu
Council of Elders)
Snowshoes, toboggans, ceremonial clothing and even a snowmobile
will be part of a new travelling exhibit celebrating the role of
walking as a way of life and survival for the Crees of Quebec.
Representatives of the Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute
(ACCI) announced the upcoming exhibit during this week's Nishiiyuu
Cultural Gathering in Nemaska.
The gathering is a chance for elders to share their knowledge
and discuss the role of Cree tradition in modern life.
"We're traditionally a nomadic people, so walking plays a central
role in our very being, in who we are," said ACCI executive director
archival photo that will be part of the upcoming exhibit.
(Nishiiyuu Council of Elders)
"Walking plays a role in ceremony, like the walking-out ceremony
and the first snowshoe walk. But it's also become an important part
of modern-day healing. The Journey of Nishiiyuu is probably the
most famous example of that."
The Journey of Nishiyuu began with six teenagers from Whapmagoostui,
the northernmost Cree community in Quebec, who walked 1,600 kilometres
to Ottawa in March 2013 to demonstrate strength and solidarity among
Since then, Cree groups have walked hundreds of kilometres to
protest uranium development, to fundraise, and to draw attention
to various causes.
'This is where they find healing'
Pash said the exhibit will include thousand-year-old stone knives
and spear tips, as well as recent videos and pictures that show
how Crees have created and adapted different tools as their relationship
with the land has evolved.
Moses when he and other walkers arrived in Eastmain after
their winter journey. (Jaime Little/CBC)
"Because of the central importance of walking to our culture,
we've developed technologies that have to do with walking that have
been so important to our survival," said Pash, "like snowshoes,
and all the tools that are used in the winter and through journeys."
Each winter, youth in the Cree communities embark on weeks-long
winter journeys, hauling food and supplies on toboggans through
the bush as their ancestors used to do.
For some, it's a way to reconnect with the old ways. For others,
it's a chance to get healthy and break bad habits, leaving technology,
alcohol and social pressures behind.
"The walk helps each individual in different ways," said Jamie
Moses, who organized winter journeys in Eastmain.
"This is where they find healing. They understand how hard it
was for our people living off the land and how they survived."
The message is strength
In addition to coats and moccasins used to keep warm during
long winter journeys, the ceremonial clothing worn during early
rites of passage will also be on display.
The walking-out ceremony and the first snowshoe walk are rituals
to mark a child's first steps. The traditional outfits normally
worn during these ceremonies will be part of the exhibit.
walk helps each individual in different ways,' said Jamie
Moses, who organized winter journeys in Eastmain. (Jaime Little/CBC)
"The main message is about strength: the strength of our culture,
the strength of our people, and what we have gained from our relationship
with the territory, with the land, with the animals," said Pash.
"It's going to be about how we will maintain a healthy existence
in the future, about healing, about cultural support and maintenance."
Footprints: A Walk Through Generations will open at the Aanischaaukamikw
Cree Cultural Institute in Oujé-Bougoumou this November,
and then tour all the Cree communities of Quebec before travelling
to museums in Canada's major cities.