There are many ways to explore Québec’s rich Indigenous history, heritage, and culture. But with some 11 nations across 55 communities, you may have a hard time choosing where to start.
Here are just a few of the many events, activities, and attractions helping visitors discover and learn about the province’s deep Indigenous roots, customs, and modern-day achievements.
Montréal First Peoples Festival
Every August, Québec’s biggest city hosts the nine-day Montréal First Peoples Festival. Held at multiple downtown venues, the lineup of films, concerts, art shows, Indigenous street food, and seminars celebrates Indigenous groups throughout the three Americas as well as around the world.
Huron Traditional Site
Immerse yourself in the Huron way of life at this recreated village on the Huron-Wendat reservation in Wendake – just a 15-minute-drive from Québec City. Visit a traditional long house, smokehouse, sweat lodge, and giant teepee on a guided tour, take a workshop on animal skins and tanning tools, or embark on a Shamanic quest. Learn how to craft a medicine wheel or necklace, then stretch your legs in a crab race or rope game. Listen to legends – long passed down in the Iroquois language – like the Creation of the World and Discovery of Fire. Or watch a sacred ceremony before partaking in the friendship dance.
Canadian Museum of History
Sitting on the north bank of the Ottawa River in Gatineau, directly across from Canada’s capital of Ottawa, the Canadian Museum of History unpacks 20,000 years of human history. Catch a glimpse of Pacific Coast First Nations in the Grand Hall, where a curving, six-story window casts light on totem poles, iconic houses, and works of art. Go deeper with the exhibit “From Time Immemorial – Tsimshian Prehistory”, a reproduction of archeological excavations in Northern B.C. But don’t miss the First Peoples Hall, where more than 2,000 objects – from clothing and tools to ceremonial artifacts – and videos, art, and dioramas capture the culture and contributions of Canada’s First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples.
A five-hour-drive north of Montréal, the Atikamekw native reserve of Manawan offers a wide array of Indigenous activities. Visit the Band Council, the community radio station, and local craftspeople on a guided walking tour, or time your trip to catch a colorful powwow – complete with local food and craft merchants. Learn some Atikamekw words (in a variety of Cree, an Algonquian language) or discover the healing power of plants. The ultimate: after a traditional meal of moose meat and bannock, gather around a campfire for an evening of Atikamekw storytelling before tucking into a teepee for the night on nearby Matakan Island.
Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute
In the southern reach of Québec’s Eeyou Istchee Baie-James region, the Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute is a must-visit gem in the Cree community of Ouje-Bougoumou. A nod to the traditional Cree dwelling called sabtuan, laminated bent spruce beams line this world-class facility that opened in 2012. More than 3,000 square feet of exhibition space, a library/archives, and demo spaces for teaching traditional pursuits all help preserve and share the Cree Nation’s heritage. Take in music or a movie in the Chief Billy Diamond Hall, and pick up local arts or crafts at the on-site boutique.
Celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2019, Nunavik Parks encompasses four national playgrounds in Québec’s far north. Fly in on an Inuit-guided small-group trip to sample the best of this vast land, where Inuktitut is the traditional language. Hike around a two-mile-wide crater lake in Pingualuit, the region’s first established park; cross-country ski or snowshoe along the Koroc River valley in Kuururjuaq; kayak from campsite to campsite on Tursujuq’s inland sea of Tasiujaq Lake; and descend the George River – historic gateway for the Inuit and Naskapi peoples – in Ulittaniujalik.
Ready to experience Québec’s Indigenous cultures?