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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.

Nov 19, 2014

3rd Annual Family Weekend…A Great Success!

The 3rd Annual Family Weekend was a great success! 

On the first day we had close to 70 people join us for the whole afternoon.   The second day was just as popular.  In total we received over 150 people last weekend.  Those who attended experienced things that they’ve never before had the chance to see or do.

We invited nine (9) special guests to be with us for the whole weekend to transfer their traditional skills knowledge to all the participants that came to Aanischaaukamikw.  Elders Harry & Connie Bearskin and John & Beulah Crowe, from Chisasibi, brought their tools to make baby rattles, miniature snowshoes & carvings. From Mistissini, Emma Matoush taught participants to sew baby moccasins, and Elders Isaac & Sophie Coon taught participants the art of fishnet making.  Last but not least, Hattie Kitchen & Rene Blacksmith came to show us how to make baby moccasins and how to make your own crooked knife.

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.

Thank you to the ACCI staff for making this event a success and to our guests who came from near and far.  Thank you especially to our Elders who made this event such a special and enriching experience with the knowledge they shared throughout the weekend.

Written by  Ancita Bugden, Special Events and Gathering Coordinator