Wemindji

Wemindji comes from the Cree word for Ochre Mountains that offers a gorgeous backdrop for the community, it is also known as Paint Hills. With a population of approximately 1500 people the Cree culture is still going strong and Wemindji is one of the fastest growing communities in the north. Economic activities include arts and crafts, business and services, trapping, tourism, mining exploration, construction, transport and outfitting.

The Community is located on the eastern shore of James Bay that offers a rich biodiversity inland and out on the coast of James Bay. It offers natural beauty of wildlife, rugged terrain, lakes and rivers, various species of animals and plants, and is rich with islands out on the James Bay. The people are deeply connected to their roots practicing their Cree Culture, Language and way of life on a daily basis.

The Land

James Bay Territory also known as Eeyou Istchee meaning the land of the people” in Cree has a rich biodiversity offering lakes, rivers, hills, clay deposits, peat pots, and various species of animals and plants. Moose, caribou, black bear, goose, ptarmigan, rabbit, beaver, walleye and pike are some of the wildlife that fills the James Bay Territory all of these that are harvested by the Cree’s. The Plants and Trees that are common in the territory are black spruce, poplar, tamarack, willow, and wild berries all which are used for medicinal purposes or building essential tools and even homes with. The land is perfect for hiking, canoeing, camping, cultural experiences, and wild life watching.

James Bay Coast

James Bay offers fresh air, and is one of the biggest inland seas in the world that is also rich In biodiversity and islands that are great for wild life watching, camping, hiking and new experiences. The James Bay Coast is approximately 160km wide from west to east and some of the main rivers along the coast are La Grand, Eastmain, Nottaway, Harricana, Moose, Albony, and Attwapiskat. The major Island near Wemindji is Cape Hope Island, Long Island, Old Factory Island, Paint Hill Islands, North and South Twin islands. It is also comprised of Walrus, bearded Seals, Belugas, and Polar Bears near and around the islands. Some of the common fish and bird species are the lump suckers, Arctic Chars, Sculpins and Arctic Terns, Great Black Seagull, Canada goose, loon, duck, American Pipit and much more.

The Cree Culture

The Cree Culture in Wemindji is very rich, and it is evident once visitors enter the community teepees are established behind every other house. Women will often be cooking traditional foods out in the teepee that is shared between families. Hunting, trapping and fishing is an essential part of the Cree culture, for some it is their livelihood. Immersion of the Cree language is everywhere because it is an important aspect of their identity. The youth, adults and elders are fluent in speaking Cree and written Cree syllabics, and even non-natives leave here knowing a few words or two in Cree.

Cultural Activities

 
  • image Wemindji’s Cultural Village is a new development with a purpose to revitalize, and preserve the Cree culture. Read More

    Cultural Village

  • image Old factory is located just 25km south of Wemindji, and it is where people once lived before Wemindji was first established in 1959. Read More

    Old Factory Visit

  • image The Community of Wemindji has an annual blueberry festival where people can participate in. Read More

    Blue Berry Festival

  • image The snowshoe journey is a 3-4 week journey learning about the land, hunting, trapping and living off the land. Read More

    Snowshoe Journey

  • image Ceremonies are an important component in the Cree society where every milestone of a child’s development is celebrated with a feast and expression of happiness. Read More

    Ceremonies and Feasts

  • image An festival is organized to celebrate the anniversary of Wemindji, which is held in July every other year. Read More

    Music Festival

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Cultural Village

Wemindji’s Cultural Village is a new development with a purpose to revitalize, and preserve the Cree culture. It is a place where community members go to practice and teach Cree culture, and share knowledge, legends and traditional stories. Some of the activities include traditional cooking, tanning moose hide, woodcarving, and feasts. People can come to the cultural camp to relax or participate to keep the culture strong, and enjoy the traditional meal prepared by the women.

Old Factory Visit

Old factory is located just 25km south of Wemindji, and it is where people once lived before Wemindji was first established in 1959. Wemindji used to be the winter grounds for the community members and during mid July-August they would canoe back to Old Factory for the summer. This is now part of the annual traditional event where youth participate and canoe as their elders once did and partake in traditional activities, feasts and dancing that everyone enjoys.

Blueberry Festival

The Community of Wemindji has an annual blueberry festival where people can participate in. All kinds of blueberry contest are held that shows off the people’s culinary skills and creativity.

Snowshoe Journey

The snowshoe journey is a journey taken in the mid winter between Jan-Feb. The youth and community members are welcome to participate on a 3-4 week journey that gives them an opportunity to learn about the land and experience the trails that their ancestors had once taken. It is an adventure and great Cree cultural learning experience, and once the journey ends they are welcomed with a feast, dancing and sharing of experience.

Ceremonies and Feasts

Ceremonies are an important component in the Cree society where every milestone of a child’s development is celebrated with a feast and expression of happiness. The birth, first step, walking out ceremony, first snowshoe walk are some of the examples of celebrations. A successful hunt of the season is also celebrated: the Cree’s demonstrate an act of respect for the animal by feasting, and sharing food to give thanks to the animals.

Other forms of ceremonies are healing ceremonies that are held out on the land where people go out as a group to share common experiences, knowledge and stories to solve community social matters. These can be canoe expeditions, and snowshoe journeys that the youth can participate in and where elders take their role as guides and facilitators to help the people through the healing journey.

Music Festival

An festival is organized to celebrate the anniversary of Wemindji, which is held in July every other year. Many Activities for the children, youth, adults and elders take place and aboriginal artists are invited to sing and preform for the community of Wemindji.