Two elders, Nancy Snowboy and Elizabeth Cookish, came from Chisasibi to show off their sewing skills and help any interested onlookers with their sewing skills. Being from a coastal community, the two elders have access to different furs to sew with than what is normally used in Ouje-Bougoumou. Many of their mittens were made using seal skins. Just from looking at them, these mittens must be extremely warm in the winter months and they definitely keep your hands dry during spring. Hopefully some of our visitors were inspired by their work and incorporate some of the coastal designs into their sewing.
Johnny Neeposh came to share some legends and stories that he was told as a child. Mr. Neeposh is an incredible story teller; he has the ability to capture the imagination of everyone around him when he speaks. His story about the boy and the bear and why it is important to respect traditions and advice from others proved to be a valuable life lesson to all who listened. He also told stories of when he was a boy living in the bush with his parents and all the knowledge he acquired while growing up. He expressed the importance of keeping these teachings strong by passing them down to our own children and future generations. It was such a pleasure having him here with us.
There was a place for younger children as well; many of our visitors took the time to play with their children. Playing with beads was a hit among children and many left with beaded bracelets, necklaces & key chains. After seeing the colour schemes of the new found jewelry, and while there is much to learning about the art of beading, it is clear that there are many future artisans in Eeyou Istchee. Of course painting children’s faces is always a hit, many of the children that came during the weekend had traditional designs from caribou jackets painted on their faces. We’d like to thank Esther Simard, for her time & artwork displayed on their faces. They were all proud of their painted faces when leaving the play area.
The Cree Regional Authority archaeologists were involved in demonstrating the art of flint knapping and starting fires using traditional techniques. Making arrowheads, scrappers and knives is a difficult task at the best of times. It requires patience, precision and a great deal of knowledge in how to shape your rock. Thinking back when this type of activity was routinely done, it really highlights how ingenious people were centuries ago. Many of the visitors that attended the weekend were amazed at how sharp a piece of rock could become, jaws dropped after seeing a piece of rock slice through a piece of leather like an X-Acto knife.
Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute was very fortunate to have our special guest, James Kawapit Sr. from Whapmagoostui come for the weekend and play the Cree traditional drum for all to hear. The drum has been played throughout Eeyou Istchee since time immemorial, and this was a perfect opportunity to expose those who have yet to hear the drum. Mr. Kawapit sang songs to the bear to wish for a good hunt; to thank God for all the animals & creation; to the women of Eeyou Istchee; to the caribou that roam the land; the sun that rises, gives us light and sets everyday & last but not least, to the youth of the Cree Nation. He also took the time to speak about his history with the drum and his feelings when singing and playing.
Our Family Weekend presented the idea of transferring knowledge from Elders to Youth, from Father to Son, and Mothers to daughters. Listening to stories, playing, watching others sew, and hearing songs and the drum play were all ways to transfer some of the traditional knowledge that continues to be such an integral part of the Cree culture today. After seeing many of the faces in attendance this weekend, there are many that learned something new and are now new carriers of traditional knowledge.