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The only Aboriginal community in Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean, Mashteuiatsh is located on the western shore of Pekuakami, the Innu term for large body of water, which refers to Lac Saint-Jean. Traditionally, the Innu people’s identity is tied to the place where they live with their family. As such, the name Pekuakamilnuatsh (Innu term for Pekuakami) is still used today to identify the members of this community.
Founded in 1856, it is the oldest Innu reserve. Before being named Mashteuiatsh, which means “where there is a point” it was already a passage and summer gathering place where fishing was often successful. Originally known as "Ouiatchouan", the community has been called Mashteuiatsh since 1985. For a long time, the popular name, “Pointe-Bleue” also designated the reserve's inhabited area.
The majority of the members of the Pekuakamilnuatsh First Nation live in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region, mainly in the community of Mashteuiatsh.
An authentic cultural experience in the heart of a Canadian First Nation.
For more information about the Mashteuiatsh reserve, visit the Mashteuiatsh Reserve tourism office website.
Community name: Mashteuiatsh (a reserve territory under the Indian Act)
Nation: The First Nation of Mashteuiatsh is part of the Innu Nation (also known as Montagnais)
Name of inhabitants: Pekuakamiulnu (singular), Pekuakamiulnuatsh (plural)
Population: The Lac-Saint-Jean Montagnais band has 4,791 members, 1,749 of whom live within the community of Mashteuiatsh (source: the Indian Register, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, June 2006)
Languages: Nehlueun and French
Geographic location: Mashteuiatsh is located on the western shore of Pekuakami, 6 km from Roberval; it can be reached by Route 169
The Montagnais tent (prospector's tent) has a very long history, almost as long as that of the teepee. This large white tent has been a part of every North American exploration expedition and every gold rush, as well as being the traditional dwelling of the Montagnais people for many centuries. It is a large tent made with a heavy cotton canvas that is resistant to wind and bad weather. In the winter, small wood stoves are used inside the tent to warm the occupants.
For the First Nations, the wigwam or teepee was the practical dwelling par excellence: cool in summer, warm in winter. Two women could install one in an hour, attaching bison skins to a cone-shaped frame of long poles. An entire family would sleep in this tent, brightly painted with traditional motifs.
Storytelling around a campfire
Spirituality played an important part in the lives of First Nations tribes. First Nations people believed that every object contained a powerful spirit. In their daily activities and rituals, their behaviour was testimony to a profound respect for nature and the world around them. There were three important influences on their everyday lives: myths, religious beliefs and practices, and legends.
Dreamcatchers and crafts
The dreamcatcher catches bad dreams in its web, only letting good thoughts pass through a hole at its centre. With the first rays of morning sunlight, the bad dreams caught in the web are destroyed.
Festival de contes et légendes Atalukan (storytelling festival)Date: August 9 to 14, 2016
Description: This First Nations festival brings storytellers from various aboriginal nations together to share traditional tales and legends. The nomadic event travels to different locations to bring the richness of First Nations culture and imagination to the surrounding communities.
Le grand rassemblement des Premières Nations (gathering)Date:July 10 to 12, 2015 (2016 dates to be confirmed)
Description: Every year the Montagnais du Lac St-Jean band of Mashteuiatsh is proud to host one of the largest First Nations gatherings in Quebec, the Grand rassemblement des Premières Nations. Powwow dances, traditional sports competitions, handicraft exhibits and more are held at the Ilnu cultural centre.
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