Igniting the Flame
December 14, 2010
"We're going to do a lot of projects like this one."
Quentin Condo, Mi'qmaq
A winning combination! The development of the Mi'gmaq cultural village in Gesgapegiag combines the preservation of traditional skills with the development of an authentic tourist experience. With the help of elders and experts, young people from the community make tools and handmade objects that will be presented on the site. Some of them, such as canoes or wigwams, could be rented out to visitors. A project to revitalize and promote the heritage: a winning combination!
Medium shot. Inside a very large tent. Quentin Condo is wearing a tuque and a black tracksuit. Behind him there are animal hides are stretched using wooden boards and ropes.
So this is one of the projects that we have ongoing in the community, it’s one of the cultural programs that are gonna tie into our, uh, Indian village that we’re putting up together.
The camera moves to the left. Four people are working a hide. Back to Quentin Condo.
So, we have, uh, eight individuals from our community, or learning from, uh, René Martin on how to do the, the stretching of the hides, and defleshing, and taking the fur off. And, uh, the final product is going to be raw hide. So with that raw hide, we can then strip it, you know, or, uh, to make snowshoes, to weave all a snowshoes, which will be another course after.
And, uh, we can also use the hides to make drums and, and other things like this, so… It’s one of the programs that are going to link in to other programs down the line, so hopefully by, uh, spring time, we can have another course put together to do snowshoes, and then one to do the drums…
So, uh, this is a way to ensure that our, our practices are not lost so… It’s a way to tie in new-age economy. You know, people got to work, they need a way to put food on the table. And it’s a way to maintain our heritage at the same time, so it’s a good balance. Works out very well. And, uh, we have many of these projects that are ongoing.
The camera keeps moving to the right and follows Quentin Condo, revealing a birchbark canoe placed on recycling bins.
Uh, can see over here, this is a birchbark canoe that was built, uh, in one of our courses, that was made possible also, uh, through Heritage Canada. We worked with them, uh, uh, to make that project possible. And, uh, this is another thing that’s going to tie into the village that we’re putting together, that tourist attraction, because these birchbark canoes are also going to be available for, uh, rent, for individuals who, for the tourists who do come down and come on to the side. They’ll be able to, uh, rent the wigwams that we’re building, which will also be birchbark covered.
And, uh, this way it gives them a chance not to just go and see pieces of the art from our culture on a shelf. Uh, they’re going to gain an appreciation for it; they’re gonna be able to experience it by going out on a birchbark canoe made by, uh, Mig’maq people.
Three men stretch a hide on a wooden frame lying flat on the ground.
You get to experience the culture more than you would just seeing it on pictures, or reading about it, or seeing it on a shelf. This enables the, uh, the individuals to go out there, be a part of the culture, experience it, and gain a better understanding of who we are.
So it works out pretty good. And, uh, we’re gonna be doing many other projects like this. In the springtime we do intend on, also having a, uh, reintroducing an art that’s been lost in the community which is birchbark baskets, with porcupine quill embroidery, so it’s gonna be really, uh, pretty neat. And the people that are working on the programs I think that they appreciate it quite a bit, and they doing a fantastic job. So, it’s really nice to see. And it’s, uh, it’s a lot of process but we’re climbing the hill fast. So it’s coming, coming together pretty good.
The Pow Wow Effect
Jean-Marc Niquay. Martine Mowatt. Fred Kistabish. Derek Barnaby and the participants of the Kahnawake. Cacouna and Wemotaci pow wow
September 1, 2012
Kahnawake - Cacouna - Wemotaci
Coming together, all generations united. Welcome, celebrate, enjoy. Wear your finely crafted regalia, dance in a circle, sing. Participate in competitions, wait for the results with excitement… The culture is alive, its roots are deep. The heart of the nation is beating. You can hear it for miles. That's the sound of the Pow Wow.
Video showing images of pow-pows in Quebec with the voice of Jean-Marc Niquay and quotes from Martine Mowatt, Fred Kistabish and Derek Barnaby.
On a black background, the title: Our powwows. Chants and drumbeats can be heard throughout the entire soundtrack of the video.
Several tents are aligned. Inside the one found in the centre, a woman styles another woman's hair. A heading indicates Pow-wow, Kahnawake.
A young girl, dressed for the powwow, looks at her cell phone, sitting on a chair.
Several men standing in a row are carrying flags.
Women dressed in their regalia dance on a grassy field.
Jean-Marc Niquay, Atikamek Nehirowisiw
Pow-wows are not a show, they're a spiritual event. They’re events where, uh... where people sing and dance to thank the Creator.
Inside a tent, six men are sitting around a large drum and beating on the drum. Three other men are standing and looking at them.
A man is in charge of the fire for cooking food under the curious eye of several spectators. A heading indicates: Pow-wow, Cacouna.
A woman dressed in traditional clothes dances with her back to the camera. Comments by Martine Mowatt, Anishinabe (Algonquin), appear on the screen.
In these powwows, you can seek healing. I slowly started at age 16. In those days, I was somewhat lost.
Close-up on the feet of the dancing woman.
It's important for my identity and to rediscover myself. There are many people, many nations: the Algonquins, the Crees, the Atikamekw.
Various craft stands are lined up under tents welcoming visitors.
A man dances with feathers in his hands.
In full view of the spectators sitting in bleachers, dancers perform in traditional clothes.
Close-up of a dancing child.
A girl dances with a shawl, her arms wide open, giving the impression that her apparel has wings.
In the midst of several dancers, a woman in traditional clothing accompanies a person with reduced mobility to the dance floor.
Sitting in a circle, nine men beat on a drum.
A green hill is overlooking a grassy area bordered by covered bleachers which welcome many dancers. The commentary by Fred Kistabish, Anishinabe (Algonquin) appears on the screen.
Those that are often seen in powwows, in traditional Indigenous activities, those who dance, those who play drums, they’re all people who lead a sober lifestyle.
On a grassy field, two people in traditional clothing are drumming. Spectators take pictures.
Canoes and canoers are lined up on the street at an intersection, ready for the start of a race. People in the surrounding area are watching the scene.
Amidst a river, canoe racing in action. Determination is plastered on the faces of the canoers.
Two men run down the street, their canoe on their shoulders. Title: Pow-wow, Wendake.
A man carries heavy jute bags on his back. A leather strap on his forehead holds the load in place.
A black and white image shows two rowers in their boat on a body of water. On the screen, the following words appear:
The early powwows were somewhat different from those of today. They mainly consisted of sports competitions, but also parades and dance performances.
In another black and white image, runners carry their canoes. Spectators watch the scene.
Six women carry charges on their backs, held by a large band on their foreheads. They’re waiting for the start of the race. Several spectators are behind them.
Surrounded by spectators, a tug-of-war competition is taking place.
At nightfall, under artificial lighting, people dance to the rhythm of chants and drums. From the bleachers, many spectators watch the performance on the grass. On the screen, Derek Barnaby's commentary appears:
A gathering of healthy people who abstain from using drugs and alcohol is a great event. Reintroducing powwows, or maiomis, proved to be a powerful medicine. It seems like we’ve developed a liking for it at home in Listuguj.
The dancers are in the dark and they’re twirling phosphorescent tubes of various colours over their heads.
© La Boîte Rouge vif and Musée de la civilisation du Québec, 2013
A Basketful of Expertise
October 20, 2011
"My godmother was an extraordinary basket weaver."
Sheila Ransom, Mohawk
Sheila Ransom is a proud descendant of a line of craftswomen with an artistic flair. Her mother, her aunt and especially her godmother all passed on their passion for basketry to her. Creations, projects and tools are piled up in her workshop, where her expert hands weave baskets. One of them was presented to Pope Benedict XVI during the canonization of Kateri Tekakwitha, the "Lily of the Mohawks", the first Indigenous saint. Her works are part of prestigious museum collections, Sheila Ransom's greatest desire goes beyond recognition. Instead, what she wants most is to pass on patience and her love for black ash and sweetgrass to her grandchildren.
Indoors. In the dining room, various objects are scattered across a table. Ash wood strips are placed next to a chair. Sheila Ransom shows the ash strips to a young man.
This is right from the tree.
So what has to be done is I have to soak this. I’ll soak it for a couple hours, and then I’ll take it, and I’ll clean it, and I get all this off, and the roughness, and that’s what it comes out of this.
Sometimes it comes off just like that.
Following scene. Sheila Ransom is sitting on a chair. In front of her there is a table with material to make the baskets. Behind her is the kitchen.
Ok, this has, this is from here. So if I’m getting ready to clean it, it’s…
The camera closes in on Sheila Ransom scratching an ash strip with a small knife. She has placed a chamois on her thighs. The young man is on his knees to her right.
It’s all with the knife, you have to know, learn how to pressure on it.
And that’s what I do with this whole bundle.
Aye aye aye… A lot of work, hey?
Yeah… It takes about an hour to clean one bundle like this.
The young man stands up and exits the video frame.
Just to clean it and then to split it and split it… Like, it will take you, yeah, pretty well a day to get that rid. ‘Cause you can’t make baskets until your material is ready. Everything has to be ready for it. Then you start baskets. And if you need to use dye in your baskets, you have to cut everything to the size that you know you need.
Then you dye, you have to have everything ready. The preparation takes a long time.
And, do you have trouble finding the black ash?
Hmm, the man that makes all of these tools for me. He gets the black ash. He goes to Maniwaki. The Maniwaki reserve, yeah. And he brings a lot of this back, and he always calls me and says, “I have logs, I’ll make splints, come and get them”.
How long does it takes to make the, for example the, the basket for the laundry?
The laundry basket? Uh, once you get all the materials ready, it takes you a day to cut everything, just about. And once you make a basket, you always have to let it dry, so you can pull it down, make it tight and then you start again. Uh, like if you’re gonna work on that and nothing else, you can probably do a laundry basket in maybe a week, and then you have to have, I have to have someone else to do the handles, those are only done by the men. The, only the men make the handles. The handles and the rims. So, for about two weeks. Mm-hmm.
Following scene. Sheila Ransom is now standing behind a chair. Behind her there is a cabinet holding several small ash baskets.
My godmother taught me. I started in 1995-96. She was a master basket maker. But my grandmother was also a basket maker. I had an aunt that was a basket maker. But my godmother is the one who got me, who taught me thi and… She was a great basket maker. Yeah…
Sheila Ransom picks up an object from the cabinet and returns to the table where she puts it down to take a smaller similar object.
So I have all kinds of molds but I was gonna show you mold like this. Where’s the, OK… Here’s a little basket, where is my mold? OK, these are called breakaway molds. They come from Maine. The people use them. Now I’mma show you these baskets. ‘Scuse me. There he is…
She goes around the table, past the camera, and comes back with a tiny little basket. The camera shows the hands of the man holding the basket.
This is a little one that I made.
See how it goes in at the top?
The smaller one must be, uh…
They’re harder to do.
And the only way you can make that is… ‘cause you have to get the mold out of it, once you make them. When it goes in here, you can’t get the mold out. But with this one you can! Once it was made, I pulled this out.
The camera moves back to Sheila Ransom’s hands. She has removed the central part of the small mold she is talking about.
Hein! Ben voyons donc!
It collapsed! Then I got the mold, then I got it out!
She is now showing a larger mold.
And now I have this one. I have, uh, friends from Maine that… I’m gonna do baskets, I sell baskets in Maine, so they send me these molds. I have, uh, sample of them.
Choose your video experience
If you continue your experience with the 360° immersive video, you will then be redirected to the Youtube app or web site. You can also continue to browse the current web site by choosing the standard video (preferred for low speed internet connections).360° on Youtube Continue with standard video