People & Culture

Hunt and gather

Expand Image

The west bank of Lake Pekuakami, or Lac Saint-Jean, in northern Quebec, about 40 kilometres west of Saguenay, is home to the Mashteuiatsh First Nation. Long before it was designated a reserve in 1856, the area was a meeting place for the indigenous Innu. Today, the Mashteuiatsh community prides itself on preserving its heritage. The ritual Mukushan, a gathering and feast, reaffirms the people’s ties to the land. Historically, the Mukushan was held in observance of marriages, religious holidays and rites of passage. Today, it is a seasonal affair to celebrate the bounties of the spring and fall hunts.

Every spring, up to 500 people gather for a week to trap beaver and marten and shoot migrating birds. Some traditions, such as smoking beaver, moose, bear and fish, hearken back to the days when the Innu were nomadic and had to preserve their meat. Today, people from all over the Saguenay region, including nearby schools and universities, join in the feast, taking care to follow such traditions as the ceremony of the first steps, a rite of passage introducing children to hunting.


Related Content

People & Culture

Kahkiihtwaam ee-pee-kiiweehtataahk: Bringing it back home again

The story of how a critically endangered Indigenous language can be saved

  • 6310 words
  • 26 minutes

People & Culture

The truth about polar bears

Depending on whom you ask, the North’s sentinel species is either on the edge of extinction or an environmental success story. An in-depth look at the complicated, contradictory and controversial science behind the sound bites

  • 4600 words
  • 19 minutes

People & Culture

In search of promised lands

Uprooted repeatedly by development projects, the Oujé-Bougoumou Cree wandered boreal Quebec for 70 years before finding a permanent home. For some, the journey continues.

  • 8111 words
  • 33 minutes
A crowd of tourist swarm on a lakeside beach in Banff National Park


Smother Nature: The struggle to protect Banff National Park

In Banff National Park, Alberta, as in protected areas across the country, managers find it difficult to balance the desire of people to experience wilderness with an imperative to conserve it

  • 3507 words
  • 15 minutes