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Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones
Home > Press centre > Press releases > 2012 > Juin 8, 2012

Minister Kelley takes part in the official inauguration of the Oujé-Bougoumou Cree Cultural Institute

Oujé-Bougoumou, June 8, 2012 – The official inauguration of the Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute is being celebrated today, attended by the Minister responsible for Native Affairs, Geoffrey Kelley; the Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee),  Matthew Coon Come; the President of the Aanischaaukamikw Foundation, responsible for raising the funds to construct the building through the Acquisition Fund and the Endowment Fund, Abel Bosum; the Chief of the Oujé-Bougoumou Cree Nation, Reggie Neeposh; the President and CEO of the Institute, Dianne Ottereyes Reid; and several distinguished guests from the broader cultural community.

The event will take place over three days of Cree cultural celebrations, from June 7 to 9, 2012, during which the entire Oujé-Bougoumou community will be actively involved. Demonstrations of all types of traditional crafts, storytelling by elders, the reconstruction of traditional dwellings, and vibrant cultural activities are on the program. The Cree Nation is thus paying tribute to its past, present, and future. Activities have been planned to reflect each of these periods and enhance the public’s familiarity with the nine Eeyou Istchee–James Bay Cree communities. “Promoting greater understanding of our Aboriginal heritage adds to the already enormous importance of our relationships and our cultural exchanges with Québec. These festivities not only enable us to preserve our artefacts and customs, but they also project the best of ourselves to the world,” stated the Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Crees, Matthew Coon Come.

Speaking about the work that was accomplished to reach this day of celebration, Abel Bosum stated: “It was very difficult to raise all the funds needed to make this long-held Cree dream a reality, but here we are now, after 10 years of hard work, at last celebrating the Grand Opening of Aanischaaukamikw, which we view as a gift to the world. The Foundation wishes to express its gratitude to the various Cree entities, the Québec Government, Hydro Québec, and the Government of Canada for their major contributions."

“I am very proud of this institution, which is becoming an important part of discovering the Eeyou Istchee–James Bay territory. The Institute provides a cultural and human experience that  introducing visitors to the Cree nation in a unique way. Aanischaaukamikw will enable the Oujé-Bougoumou community to become a focal point for tourism while promoting Cree culture and Québec’s Aboriginal legacy internationally,” said Minister Kelley.

Through various agreements concluded in 1998 and 2001, the Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones allocated $6.25 million to the Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute’s construction project. Last November, the Institute was consecrated by Cree elders and opened its doors to the public. For its part, the Ministère de la Culture, des Communications et de la Condition féminine granted $275 000 to the Institute for its permanent exhibition.

“The exhibition provides an incredible window on the history, customs, traditions, and cultures of the Cree nation. Both virtual and physical visitors will be amazed at the treasures waiting to be discovered. For the Cree communities, this institute serves as a mirror of their extraordinary cultural wealth,” added Minister St-Pierre.

The Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute is equipped with the most modern technology. Thus, it will become an interactive virtual hub fuelled by a multi-community fibre optic network, making guided tours of the museum possible, and providing access to distance education programs world-wide – thanks to which the collections may be shown to Web surfers.

The Chief of the Oujé-Bougoumou Cree Nation, Reggie Neeposh, expressed his immense pleasure at providing a home for the Institute and hosting Cree cultural celebrations within his territory: “Our community was incorporated into the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement in 2011. It has been recognized by the United Nations as a remarkable example of community development. Today, the gathering of visitors and distinguished guests from the cultural community at this celebration is another accomplishment we are all proud of.”

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