Cree Village Eco Lodge “creation” story
In 1996 our community decided to pursue an Eco Lodge project in order to advance the development of indigenous tourism in our region, and to provide new economic benefits for our people.
Randy Kapashesit, our late Chief, provided the leadership that guided our community towards making the project as “green” as possible. He also encouraged a development approach that, in his words, reflected the “cultural values and ethic of the Eeyou Nation,” (Eeyou being our Cree word for person). Randy consistently maintained, and encouraged us to believe that, “our culture is alive in the present and is recognizable in the modern era,” and not merely some remnant of bygone days.
Chief Randy guided our Eco Lodge design and development at a pace that allowed our community to make well considered decisions, even to the point of shutting down the project for a few months at one point until he was confident that the design process was being responsive to our community and our culture. Overall, we worked closely with our lead consultants (MacLeod Farley & Associates) to ensure that the designs and business plan satisfied our community and our investors and that the design was consistent with our environmental and cultural values.
“We know what it feels like to leave the comforts of your home, to be in a new place, and the value of true hospitality.”
We are Cree speaking descendants of people who have lived in the James Bay region since time immemorial.
As recently as the 1970s our people lived in a community of tents here in Moose Factory. Our ancestors migrated to this area from what is now called Quebec. Crossing the border into Ontario complicated our political status, which resulted in our community receiving no treaty benefits, and having no economic power.
We have since managed, in a very short time, to transform our living conditions, providing modern homes for all our people, while at the same time developing a number of important community businesses in both Moose Factory and Moosonee. As a community we are proud of our progress and of our place in the greater Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee.
A personal welcome for our guests
“You, like many people arriving here for the first time, might not know exactly what to expect in our little community. Most people’s understanding of native communities or the north are made up of images and stories on television or other sources of information. And, on first glance things may not look that different from other northern rural communities.
However, here life is subtle, and our lives are built upon and change according to small cues. Our lives are cyclical, structured by tradition, and informed on a daily basis by the clues our world gives us.
You look at the moon, and if there is a ring around it, it will be cold the next day.
You watch the tides, the wind, and the skies because hunting, trapping, and fishing, and sometimes our lives depend upon a deep understanding of these things.
You can feel in the air and just know the northern lights will be beautiful tonight.
Time seems to stand still when the surrounding waters freeze up, and our lives go on hold slightly, until the ice is thick enough for us to venture back onto our river.
Then, in springtime we all stand by the water’s edge watching and waiting to hear the first sharp cracks, and finally the thunder as the ice finally begins to toss and tumble downriver, signifying our return to freedom, and our life’s blood.
Springtime is also a time for excitement as everybody is anxious for the hunt, and that first taste of goose cooked over a fire.
So many things that we love, that we were taught, and that we would love to teach others.
Welcome to our home!” —Andrea Jolly, Community Member