About us...

ACCI flows from the knowledge that Cree culture must be captured, maintained, shared, celebrated, and practiced. Cree Elders have spoken of the need for a central place for the protection of the way, and have developed a vision for Aanischaaukamikw over several decades.

Nov 29, 2019

My internship in the Collections department at Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute, 2018

By: Camille Crevier-Lalonde

My work as an intern as part of my course in applied museology at Montmorency College often consist of solving problems to support and display objects that may have specific requirements or restrictions. Making a mount is always about the condition of the object, the center of gravity and the structural stability of the object.

During my internship I had the occasion of making storage mounts for a variety of objects, some of them representing more of a challenge than others. My favourite mount making experience was with child’s pants worn during a walking out ceremony.

On loan from Trifona Simard, SIMARD-2016-2

The first step was to construct padding for the leather pants. Measurements had to be taken for sewing small pads of synthetic fabric (Tyvek- high density polyethylene material padded with polyester fibers). The padding is useful for the object : the weight of the leather is distributed equally on the padding, causing less stress on the object and maintaining the fabric in a position that resemble the natural position of the object before it came on loan.

From the perspective of conservation, organic collections are the most fragile material types in a museum. Light, temperature/humidity variations and insects may deteriorate any leather object: that is why it is important to use stable materials and non-acid fibers (like Tyvek) that will keep the objects from deteriorating.

As an intern, I learned that the objects do not always need as much support as we would think. Additions of material may cause stress on a fragile object. Some leather ornaments, such as leather fringes, can be hard to present directly on a mount, because they are made of a malleable fabric. Sometimes, the object is a good mount in itself for these ornaments. In the picture below, we can see that the pants are supporting the fringes well.

The second step was to construct a tray for supporting the object in storage. The pants were installed on a rigid support, consisting of non-acidic Hollinger board, covered with a layer of microfoam and acid free cotton fabric. The fabric had been pinned to adjust equally the tension of the textile on the mount, then taped at the back of the board, with acid free tape. The pants were held in place on the board with cotton ribbons.

This Hollinger board provided an easy way of supporting the pants in storage; the pants can now be observed without any movement of the object itself, which is good for the prevention of any damage during storage.

Nov 5, 2019

Attending the 2019 SICC ē-micimināyakik Gathering by Annie Bosum

I had the honour to attend the 2019 SICC ē-micimināyakikGathering hosted by the Saskatchewan Indigenous Cultural Centre in Saskatoon May 2-3, 2019. There, I presented the Brian Deer Classification System, which we are using in the Aanischaaukamikw Library and debriefed on the functions and spaces of the Aanischaaukamikw Cultural Institute.

Annie at the conference, from the SICC event Facebook page

 This two-day indigenous gathering was held at the Ramada By Wyndham Saskatoon with various keynote speakers, panels and workshops.  The event provided opportunities for sharing indigenous knowledge and networking from curators, archivists, librarians, researchers and museum professionals.  It was also a great way to share issues, ideas, progress and solutions for First Nations museums, cultural centres, archives, interpretive centres and libraries.  It was very interesting to see all the different indigenous nationalities coming together to share their knowledge, expertise and their ways of preserving and protecting their cultural heritage.  Among the nationalities who participated in this event were Plains Cree, Nakoda, Ts’msyen/Cree , Haida, Dene, Metis, Chippewa,, Pueblo, Saulteau, Anishinaabe ,Cree and Mohawk!

The first day opened with an early morning pipe ceremony by Elder William Ratfoot proceeded by opening remarks by the emcee, JR McArthur, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations,  the SICC Board of Governors Chief Alvin Francis and SICC President Wanda Wilson.  The first day was relaxing for me- I wasn’t on any of the panels and workshops-which I was happy with because I was still tired from all the travelling.  I had the wonderful opportunity to sit and listen to some good presenters on the subjects of Indigenous Intellectual Property : Arising Questions by Val Napoleon, Saulteau and Indigenous Collections: Valuing Our Cultural Heritage and Intellectual Property by Sean Young , Haida and Robin Gray, Ts’msyen/Cree.  Elegant and nourishing lunches were served both days which made it easy for the delegation to return to their panels and workshops.  There were five workshops and two panel discussions were held in various rooms throughout the afternoon.  One of the panels I got to listen to was entitled: Preparing Our Peoples: indigenous Education in Cultural Preservation & Property Law by Jessie Ryker-Crawford, Filipe Colon, and Val Naploeon.  The gathering ended with a thank you prayer by Elder William Ratfoot.

Annie at the event, from the SICC Facebook event page.

 The second day I was a bit apprehensive knowing I had to participate in two presentations, the first was at 10:30 am and the other at 1:00 pm.  I quickly felt at ease when I met my first workshop partner, Audrey Dreaver because of her warm and kind personality. When I entered the room where we did our workshop, she was already sitting with the coordinator putting together my slide, she looked at me sitting in the audience and she says, “Annie get up here, I’m not sitting here by myself!“  The audience laughed with us!  Our Workshop presentation was called: Politics of Museum Technology: Labels & Categorizations of Indigenous Material Culture.  The second presentation I participated in was on Panel 3 where I was supposed to sit with Del Jacko and Hillary McLeod who were both Anishinaabe.  I got confused with all the different rooms, I ended up in the wrong room and by the time I got to the right room my partners were a little into their discussion so I told the coordinator I didn’t want to distract them so I had to do my presentation alone.  I was nervous at first but as I looked at the huge audience in front of me and saw their interest manifested on their faces, I switched my focus away from myself to a need to give them what they came there for.  

Our Panel discussion was called: Access to Indigenous Cultural Knowledge (Archival Material).  A few people approached me after my presentation to give me their business cards, and told me they enjoyed my presentation-one even requested to send them my slides! Unfortunately I was unable to discuss the Brian Deer Classification System poster in detail due to time restraints.  I was disappointed that I was unable to listen to all the other workshops and panel discussions that were held in various rooms.  All in all, I really enjoyed this conference and meeting all the people.  It was a great learning experience- which goes to prove – learning is a life-long achievement that is to be appreciated and taken when it arises and I am glad that the Saskatchewan Indigenous Cultural Centre (SICC) and the Aanischaaukamikw Cree Culture Institute made this learning experience possible for me.  It was a proud moment and an awesome closure when the President of SICC, Wanda Wilson said to me.  “I like what Aanischaaukamikw is doing and we are coming to visit your community!

Nov 19, 2018

Beginning of my adventurous Internship - Alycia Lameboy-Dixon

This past summer I worked as an archives intern at Aanischaaukamikw. My main tasks were to research existing archives in institutions and organisations in Gatineau, Ottawa and Montreal, to gather digital copies of the material for researchers to use when they visit Aanischaaukamikw. I was included in some of the other activities that Aanischaaukamikw had organised over the summer. For example, I was fortunate to have the opportunity of visiting a few of the painted caribou coats at the Canadian Museum of History, and the National Gallery of Canada, in June 2018 - by far, my favourite adventure of my summer internship. 

This research trip was organized by Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute and funded by the Canada Council for the Arts, as part of a bigger project to rediscover our traditions of painting on caribou hide in Eeyou Istchee. Delegates, including Elders and young adults like myself were from Whapmagoostui, Chisasibi, or Wemindji, travelled to Gatineau-Ottawa for this event.

Photo 1: Our group [L-R: Donny Dick, Matthew Iserhoff, Matthew Mukash, me, Natasia Mukash, Jean Masty, Jane Matthew, Nancy Sheshamush, Lawrence Matthew, Jerry Gull, Emily Sam, Charly Gilpin]. We are standing in front of the mirrored abstract image of the Aanischaaukamikw building that is in one of the corridors at Canada Museum of History. Photo: Laura Phillips

Our first museum visit was at the Canadian Museum of History [CMH]. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect. I mean, what do you expect when it’s your first time being behind the scenes in the museum? When I walked into that room, I saw a field of painted coats along with different objects laid out on tables.  I was too amazed to believe what was in front of me at that moment. I was scared to break anything if I touched it. The Elders discussed the painted coats and I learned some of the history of the coats in our region. We went on a tour to see the museum’s cold storage rooms (used for furs and organics) and the storage room for oversized collections like skidoos and toboggans. 

These are some of the highlights from that day:

       Here is a photo of a women’s cap made by Mimie Cheezo from Eastmain, Quebec in 1962; A pair of female leggings (used for 2 generations) made by Daisy Cheezo from Eastmain, Quebec in 1962; A band for a shell bag made in 1963 by Louise Cheezo also from Eastmain, Quebec.
Photo 2: Woman’s cap [III-D-156] made by Mimie Cheezo, Eastmain, 1962. Photo: Alycia Lameboy-Dixon.

Because of the sequence of absorbing new information, as much as my day felt very long, I learned so much. I spent a few hours just googling the definition of the terms I heard that day.

Photo 3: Woman’s leggings [III-D-115] made by Daisy Cheezo, Eastmain, 1962. Photo: Alycia Lameboy-Dixon.

Photo 4: A band of a shell bag [III-D-214] made by Louise Cheezo, Eastmain, 1963. Photo: Alycia Lameboy-Dixon. 

The second day was interesting in different ways. With the help of the curators and other collections staff at CMH, the coats were gently flipped over so we could see the designs on the back. Elder Jane Matthew from Chisasibi shared her memories with everyone, and the stories she heard from her grand-parents, that they heard from their grand-parents. I was standing nearby Emily Sam (daughter of Jane and Lawrence Matthew) as she was analyzing the designs on the painted coats. 
Emily shared with me that back in the day, our chief would be given a ceremonial caribou hide coat with painting on it. The Elders think our ancestors used lines to represent path ways, the dots to represent people that the chief led and if you look closely, you can see the symbols, or nearly read their story. 

Photo 5: Painted caribou coat [45973] on display at the National Gallery. Photo: Alycia Lameboy-Dixon.

On the third day of our trip, we spent our morning visiting the National Gallery of Canada [NGC]. The NGC curator and the exhibition coordinator introduced themselves and presented the painted coat that is in the Indigenous Arts Exhibition. There is no known information about the maker of the coat, apart from that it is called 'Naskapi', like all coats of this kind - however, the research project is uncovering many links between these coats and Eeyou Istchee (more details to come on that when research is in later stages). 

The details on this coat are captivating. Although handling of the object was limited, I think everyone was in awe to see this one.

Throughout the trip, I chatted with our elderly delegates and I learned a lot! My questions came out of curiosity, questions I would never think to ask. What I learned from them was that there is no such thing as asking silly, or too many, questions. Questions are how you show interest in wanting to know about your history, and our elders have so much knowledge and experience to share with us. They answer without judgement, and this is the main reason I enjoyed this trip so much. 

I’d like to thank everyone in the group for this wonderful immersion in Eeyou culture. This experience enhanced my understanding to why we need to document OUR Eeyou / Eenou history, the real stories of our people, from our own perspectives. There is so much of our history that needs to be shared with my generation, as we learn what it means to be Eeyou in 2018. Considering the amount of Indigenous History that is still yet to be documented, we need to get to work using the expertise that we, as Eeyouch/Eenouch, have to interpret our own history using the knowledge passed to us from our ancestors, which we will, in turn, pass on to the next generations.

This summer experience also made me want to shift my career path to focus on museums. Which I think will happen lol …