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You wouldn't be here if you weren't curious.*

Hi! I'm Elena! Welcome to my travel blog Creativelena.com.
For me, it is all about “life-seeing instead of sightseeing”: Join me as I create, eat & live my way around the world. Curious?

*Check out my book, “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook”, for learning more about what we mean by creative travel. Travelling means the world to me, makes me fit for everday life and sometimes, I trust, also calmer on the inside. Read this blog with a smile, share what you love and remember to check back regularly: After all, when was the last time you did something for the first time?

First Nation Travel in Canada: Discovering the province of Québec as part of a cultural journey.

Mashteuiatsh. Can you pronounce it? A small community situated at a huge lake, about three hours drive north of the city of Québec. What is so special about it? Well, I guess it’s the fact that you can truly mix and mingle with the so-called “First Nations” here, native inhabitants of Québec in the east of Canada. It is worth visiting these communities and see for yourself on just where they stand between traditional traditions and modern self-confidence: “My dream is to live in the forest”, says Denise, a representative of the Ilnu tribe. Her eyes shine when she talks about the moose hunt. “It’s been a long time since I killed one myself,” she explains wistfully, speaking of the vast forest areas around Mashteuiatsh as if they were her true home, not the small town where she currently lives. Denise is also one of those people who know exactly what to do with nature at any given time of the year. “Preparing moose hide, laying out bear traps, collecting berries, harvesting the first herbs of spring … Spring is so important for us that we even call the time of late winter / early spring the fifth season of the year” Denise recalls, smiling. Together, we explore the “Musée Amérindien de Mashteuiatsh” as well as the cultural centre “Uashassit” right by lake Saint-Jean. Both cultural centres combine modern art and architecture with narratives and elements of the native inhabitants of Canada.

Ankunft in Mashteuiatsh: Sogleich nimmt uns die charmante Denise unter ihre Fittiche und erklärt uns mit Begeisterung die wesentlichen Zusammenhänge ihrer Kultur ...

Arriving in Mashteuiatsh: Denise gives us a perfect rundown of the modern-day challenges and aboriginal legends of old …

 

... einer Kultur, die seit vielen Jahrhunderten den Umgang mit

… a culture that is teaching about maintaining balance between humankind and nature (me ,touching a bear hide at the cultural centre of Mashteuiatsh) …

 

... die Ilnu sind nur eine

… the tribe of the Ilnu are only one among eleven First Nation tribes in the province of Québec, among them also the Inuit in the very north of the country, the Mohawk or Cree.

 

Moderne Kunst im Museum.

Modern art at the museum.

 

Auch an der Uferpromenade von Mashteuiatsh, am See Saint-Jean, befinden sich Hinweise auf die Kultur der Ilnu ...

During our lakeside walk, we also discover traces of the culture of the Ilnu …

 

... wir nächtigen im gemütlichen "Maison Robert" direkt am Meer äh See (so riesig wirkt der See vom Frühstücksraum aus!) ...

… spending the night at the comfy “Auberge Maison Robertson” right opposite from the big lake! Beautiful, the view from the breakfast room, don’t you think?

 

... danke für die schöne Zeit hier mit Dir, liebe Denise!

Thank you so much for the lovely, and very insightful time here, dear Denise!

 

Yet on we go on our discovery journey. After all, three hours’ drive into the huge province of Québec amounts to virtually nothing in Canadian terms.

 

Our next destination goes by the no less exciting name Oujé-Bougoumou …

… another three hours drive through spectacular forests, meadows and fields, as well as small villages. On our trip, we watch huge flocks of (snow)geese rest on the open fields on their journey south. The vastness of these (mostly unspoilt) areas of countryside is balm for the soul of stressed out Europeans: We are faced with something Europe might only still harbour in the north of Finland, Sweden or Norway. Beautiful. My lovely man Georg and I find ourselves well taken care of by the lovely Laurence, who accompanies us on behalf of the organization “Quebec Aboriginal Tourism” (a really useful and informative homepage for your next travel planning in Québec). She is also the one who introduces us to Anna & Dave Bosum from “Nuuchimi Wiinuu Cree Cultural Tours“: Dave and Anna, a couple to fall in love with.

Kurz nach unserer Ankunft schon erklärt Dave Bosum Georg, was "Männersache" ist hier im Norden von Québec: Es gilt, ein Paddel für eines der Kanus zu schnitzen ...

Shortly after our arrival at the lakeside property of Anna and Dave, the latter teaches Georg about “man things”, such as carving a paddle for a canoe …

 

... die einzigartige Architektur der hier gebauten "Häuser" zu bestaunen ...

… marvelling at the original building structures of the guest huts around …

 

... auch unser Lager für die Nacht zu inspizieren (dank Ofen ist es gemütlich warm hier) ...

… they are really cosy inside, smell wonderful of the fresh branches on the floor, and are warm thanks to a little stove …

 

... weiters die liebenswerte Anna Bosum kennen zu lernen, die 11 Kinder und 45 (!) Enkelkinder zählt ...

… besides, we of course get to know and love Anna Bosum, who besides having raised 11 children and counting 45 (!) grand children is also an “elder” having worked a lot to sustain and foster the culture of her native Cree people  …

 

... und eine Energie hat, die ihresgleichen sucht: Hier beim gemeinsamen Nachtmahl im Haus der Gastgeber ...

… thank you for hosting us to such a lovely meal in your home hear, dear Anna: Fried fish, rice, corn and freshly baked bannock …

 

Auch nach dem Abendessen lässt es sich Anna nicht nehmen, uns

… after dinner, it’s the girls’ turn learning more about traditional house and home work done by women of the Cree nation …

 

... hier etwa bei der Demonstration einer typischen Kinderkrippe ...

… such as learning how to build a crib and care for your children with nothing but natural materials …

 

... die Nachbargemeinde neben

… the neighbouring community of Oujé-Bougoumou also welcomes us to their new cultural centre, library and museum (Aanischaaukamikw in the native language) …

 

... hier werden wir im "Bürgermeisteramt" empfangen ...

… at the mayor’s office, we are being welcomed as “special international delegation” from Austria …

 

... reich beschenkt ...

… gifted …

 

... und erleben so richtig, was es heißt, in die Kultur der Cree vor Ort einzutauchen: Vielen Dank für diesen zauberhaften Aufenthalt! Wir hoffen, eines Tages im Winter zurückzukehren und die 

… what with an opportunity to really dive into the local culture, and learn more about traditional ways of living off the land: Can’t wait to come back in the winter time one day, where snow shoes are the most ubiquitous item to be found around every house.

 

Last but not least, we head back towards Québec city, stopping at a place called La Tuque that beckons Canadian countryside charm not far from the bright lights of the city.

At the so-called “Club Odanak La Tuque“, our warm hosts have made it their business to offer their guests pure enjoyment of nature: You can go hunting or fishing, hike, sit by the campfire, listen to stories about the legends and traditions of the Atikamekw First Nations, relax. The picturesque lake right in front of the main building of the holiday apartments and hotel rooms bears the perfectly suitable name “Beaver Lake” (Lac Castor). It is also the lake we explore as part of a morning hike, hoping not to frighten up any bears! After all, they should be quite widespread here … Georg would have liked to take a photo but I’m glad that no grumbling grizzly bear has taken us by surprise, really!

Elchgeweih statt Bär im Wald: Überall in Québec stoßen wir auf die stolzen Spuren der Jagd ...

Moose antlers instead of bear traces: Everywhere in Québec, we are faced with proud displays of hunting forest animals, a cultural custom of the First Nations people above all …

 

... nur unser Zimmer (in Form eines Tipis!) ist überraschend leer ...

… only our room at “Club Odanak La Tuque” (looking like a Tipi!) is surprisingly “empty”!

 

Unsere Herzen dafür umso voller, als wir den Geschichten der Atikamekw

Our hearts, however, fill up as we listen to the stories and legends of the Atikamekw First Nation people by the evening campfire ..!

 

Malerisch der Blick vom Hotelzimmer im Club Odanak aus ...

The view from our room in the morning …

 

... auch die Ferienanlage gefällt uns sehr ...

… we also really like the house where we are …

 

... und der See beim Morgenspaziergang dann umso mehr:

… and do admit it: Wouldn’t you rather be here right now, too?

 

Check out even more images from our culture trip through Québec here:

 

Disclaimer: We have been hosted on this trip around Québec by “Aboriginal Tourism Québec”. All opinions are my own.

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Written by Elena

Elena writes about creative destinations, shares her personal travel stories and brings inspiring photography & interesting news updates home to you. Her mission is: "Continue to be amazed at this world, one creative travel experience at a time."

Ready for learning even more about creative travel?

Elena has recently published "The Creative Traveler's Handbook". Chock full of inspiratinal stories, travel tips and advice, it offers everything you need for planning and managing your next creative escape, addressing beginners and experienced travelers alike. Here's how to get your hands on it now!
First Nation Travel in Canada: Arriving in Wendake, Québec and staying at the must-See "Hôtel Musée Premières Nations".
First Nation Travel in Canada: A day trip with the Tsuut'ina Nation around Calgary.

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