Portrait of the Naskapi Nation

Social Structure

14:36 min. - With the adoption of the Convention du Nord-Est québécois, a social infrastructure was born. The Naskapi nation has only one village, Kawawachikamach.


Samuel Pien - I head up a committee of four people that deals with police work, we meet every two weeks to discuss the different events that arise in the community. We have asked the Band Council and the Naskapi Chief to find a manner in which together our forces improve the quality of life and respond to the needs of the community that is our life force. The committee can’t change everything, because the Band Council has the final word, however, we can make certain decisions like returning children to their homes.
Noah Swappie - I often speak to children when I encounter them, they need this exchange. We take a little walk together, and I try to learn a little bit about what they are experiencing at home or in the village. Often times, they will say they are fed up with their parents drinking, as they find themselves having to take care of their brothers and sisters. The Naskapi youth live among two different cultures, that of the white man, and their own, at times this can be disruptive; they can spend the whole night playing Nintendo while their parents are out.
To hunt one must go to sleep early, rise early, but having spent the night playing video games, the younger generation can sleep until noon, and lose good part of the day. As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned to make more of an effort. Today’s children don’t remember how, and they must be re-taught.
Sarah Pien - We need more personnel and more resources at night. If someone is in crisis, we don’t know where to bring him.
Jimmy James Einish - I’m in charge of the sporting activities, I supervise them, and I look after the transportation for the players. There are four of us who organize leisure activity, George Guanish, Gordon Wakush, Jimmy Einish, and myself. I am always looking for volunteers, it is not always easy to find people to donate their time to organize activities. We went to Waswanabee to participate in the Youth Forum. In the village we put together a Youth Council which rounded up to 16 to 30 years old, with them we went to participate in the meeting in Quebec City.
Sandy Robinson - We have 185 elementary students, and 76 secondary students, for a total of 261 students.
Curtis Tootoosis - Of a staff of 26 we have almost 70% of Native teachers, that work right from pre-K up to secondary II in various grades. This year for the first time, we’re going to, we’re in the process of organizing a Parent-Teacher Association, all the other schools within our school board all have a Parent-Teacher Association, and we don’t have one, so we are gonna start on that, and we’re gonna use them as a recommending body, where they’ll come in and meet with the teachers, and we’ll work together for new ideas, so that they can also be our liaison to the community, help get our ideas and our goals out to the community members. And we also have parent-teacher meetings, where the parents are welcome to come and see the teachers, just the teachers alone.
Sandy Robinson - I am the Secretary of the Naskapi Education Committee, and as an advisor to the committee as well. So, we discuss a whole range of educational issues that apply to the Naskapi community, and that’s under the terms of Northeastern Quebec Agreement, that there has to be an education Committee looking after the interest of the schools.
Curtis Tootoosis - Most of our graduates attend Cegep in Quebec, at various locations: Seven-Islands, Quebec City, Montreal or Hull. Although there are some students that are now : one in Ottawa, one in North Bay, one in Sudbury and I think we have three in Kingston, Ontario right now. And in the past, from talking to people, I know some people from the community have attended university in Saskatchewan.
Sandy Robinson - It is an aboriginal school, it’s a Naskapi school, like we have said already, there is a, a large number of Naskapi staff, or part of the, the, the teaching programs. And we have certain rights within the Northeastern Quebec Agreement that allows us to, to come up with programs that are unique to the community, such as Naskapi language instruction, Native skills training, where we send students out on the bush to learn about their traditions, and we are flexible with our school calendar, we accommodate, for example, a goose break that happens in early May, where we let go the students for a week, and the staff can also join the students at that time. And we have in, throughout the school year special Naskapi activities.
Sandy Robinson - It’s a small school, so we have a, a very close relationship with our students, we know each student in terms of who they are and where their family situation is in terms of which family they belong to, and what their needs are and their interests. So, it’s, it’s a very special school, and I enjoy it. We have a peace room in the, in the school that we started last year, and this is a, a program that we, that we discovered at Kanawake, where they have community members that are part of a school system, and they have a, a special room where when students have conflicts with each other that stem from the classroom or outside in the playground, they resolve their differences with the help of the Elder, or Elders, or special workers for the Naskapi school, which is Jimmy Sandy Memorial School in Kawawachikamach, Quebec.
Siassi Swappie - I created everything that is displayed here. There are materials in the Naskapi language that the teachers can use as a teaching aid. They deal with chants and numbers that convey the Naskapi culture.
We have group discussions about the creation of educational materials, once finished they are at the disposal of the teachers. The materials consist of a series of 10 books, each of them dealing with a specific theme.
I work with an Elder, it is he who gives me all the necessary information to prepare the books.
Noat Einish - In 1820, a Methodist missionary named James Evans created syllabic writing. Syllabic writing contains about 46 symbols.
Joe Guanish - They tried to make us live like the white man, we are not at ease with this way of living.
Georges Guanish - The Naskapis began to take charge of the health sector. The Council and George Guanish did the necessary research so that we could take over management of the sector. An agreement was reach to this effect.
A program was planned for the Elders, people were then trained in order to work with them. During the hunting season for Canadian geese and caribou, a part of the take was given to the Elders and those who could not hunt. Fish was also distributed in this way. To be eligible for this kind of support by the hunters, one either had to earn lower revenue or be on welfare or some other form of social assistance.
Music - Philippe Mckenzie

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