All the facilitators were excited to be with us and happy to be chosen as our facilitators this year. Upon arrival, guests were enthusiastically welcomed by our staff members and provided with a schedule of the events and map of the museum. They were also given the opportunity to participate in a tour of our building and exhibit with our tour guide. Tours were given in Cree, English and French, and most participants decided to take advantage of the offer.
We had a number of different demonstration and experience booths open to visit during our family weekend. Guests were invited to learn about the walking out ceremony and other rites of passage, fishnet making, baby rattles, traditional cooking recipes and traditional sewing. Particularly popular was our Cree language booth where participants were taught to write their names in Cree.
Our young visitors had a great time at specially developed children’s stations and were able to do arts & crafts, have their faces painted, learn how to wrap a baby dolle in a traditional baby wrap called the “Washpsooyan”. Kids also had a chance to dress up in the actual costumes used by the “Mind’s Eye” theatrical production! It was really cute!
As usual, our archaeologist’s demonstrations and archeology display was one of our more popular offerings. Participants were given hands on experience in flint knapping, fire starting with a bow, and were shown ancient artifacts and replications of ancient tools. The archeologists were very busy on both days and really enjoyed transferring their knowledge to our visitors.
Food is an important part of every Cree celebration! We also had the opportunity to eat traditional snacks every day and then enjoyed a feast cooked by our local cooks David & Nancy Bosum. The food they prepared was so delicious: we had “shookamin” (fish & berries), “Iikoonaow” (bannock), “snookijam”(mixed jam & butter), “boudin” (boiled cake), “meensh iikoonaow” (blueberry bread) and other yummy snacks. The feast was great: we ate goose, moose, bear, beaver & fish with other interesting side dishes. The best dish was the “moose heart”, enjoyed by all. For many of our guests this offered them a first chance to enjoy our traditional foods and wild meats.
As part of our family weekend, we decided to honor a local family; Ryan Wapachee & Bethany Shecapio-Blacksmith were invited as our “Honorary Family” for the 3rd Annual Family Weekend. They were chosen as honorary family to represent the many young families across Eeyou Istchee working hard to bring up young children in a modern world while ensuring that the remain close to their cultural heritage. We were so happy that Ryan and Bethany were able to bring their two children and attend both days of our event.