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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.

Jun 11, 2013

Cree Fiddlers at Aanischaaukamikw


Wow!  This past weekend was a hit!  ACCI had another movie night, and what a night it was!  We presented a really interesting film called: “The Fiddlers of James Bay” which is about two talented fiddlers, Ray Spencer and Bob McLeod.  These men were famous in Eeyou Istchee for their outstanding playing ability. They were never formally trained; but, as was the tradition in their families, they learned to play from their fathers and grandfathers. This tradition originated in the 17th century with the onset of the fur trade. Fiddles made the journey across the Atlantic when fur traders from Scotland came to James Bay, and this new type of music was quickly adopted into Cree Culture. The film, released in 1980, follows Ray Spencer and Bob McLeod as they travel to the Orkney Islands in Scotland to play with an orchestra and highlights the amazing talent that these two fiddlers had.  Their playing style reflects an Eeyou twist on the traditional Scottish style.




To say that fiddle music is alive and well in Eeyou Istchee is an understatement! For this Movie Night, ACCI invited two fiddlers, Byron Jonah from Waskaganish and Johnny Jolly from Mistissini, to dazzle the crowd with their playing abilities in place of the usual discussion period after the movie.  The day started off by having our guests teach children and adults the basics of playing the fiddle.  All had a wonderful time and one person made the comment that “I am going to play at my daughter’s weddingnow”. This was an educational experience for many children for whom handling a fiddle and learning how to play with one was a new experience all together. We at ACCI were extremely happy to introduce people to playing the fiddle and inspire future fiddlers during the afternoon session.



After the movie was over, our fiddlers played for the crowd and they put on a stunning performance! Not only were the halls at ACCI filled with music, it was heard beyond and floated out of the building into the surrounding community. As a result, many stopped in to see what was happening. We soon doubled the size of the audience and those who hesitated to dance at the beginning of the show, no longer needed to wait for others to come and dance. Most of the audience were up on their feet dancing, smiling and laughing after a few songs.

Fiddle music is as popular today and as much a tradition today as it was when first adopted into our culture.  Based on the attendance and participation in this event, it looks as though there are plenty of future fiddle players in development, so we can be assured that there will be many more nights filled with dancing, laughter and fiddle music in the years to come in Eeyou Istchee!

ACCI would really like to thank everyone who helped make this event the success that it was.  Without generous support from the Board of Compensation, AirCreebec, and the Cultural Department of Ouje-Bougoumou, this event would never have happened.  Meegwetch! CHIINASKUUMITIN!
 

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