The Cree Nation of Nemaska

HISTORY OF NEMASKA

Nemaska is a new and modern village comprised of Cree families originally living at the Nemiscau trading post on Lake Nemiscau. When the Hudson’s Bay Company post closed there in 1970 and Hydro Quebec anticipated the area would be flooded by their upcoming project, the residents were dispersed until the new village of Nemaska was built in 1980, over 60 km northeast of their former site. The nearby Hydro Quebec electrical substation and airport, both called Nemiscau, create confusion as to the town’s name. As a result, many maps indicate the new site by the old name Nemiscau.

Prior to the arrival of the Europeans in the early 1600’s our people enjoyed a nomadic existence of hunting, fishing, and harvesting within our traditional hunting grounds, a way of life that is still practiced to this very day!

Upon the advent of the fur trade, our people were drawn to this economic activity and welcomed its advantages, always ensuring that our culture would survive for our future generations. Nevertheless, we have had our share of the hardships encountered along the way in our continuous struggle to be Masters of our own destiny.

In the late 1960’s it was a time of great turmoil in our lives; we reluctantly abandoned our beloved settlement on the shores of Nemaskau Sakhegun (Nemaska Lake) because of many factors, but most significantly due to an impending James Bay Hydro-Electric Project and the closing of the Hudson’s Bay Company Store (fur trading post).

Even when we were disbursed to other surrounding Cree settlements within the region we retained our identity as Nemaskau Eenouch – the people of Nemaska. Our people maintained that ‘the land and the people are one’, and always knew that we would return one day to our traditional territory and continue on our path of prosperity.

The Nemaskau Eenouch have resettled themselves in our ancestral territory and developed our new community. Now, decades after relocation, our persistence, tenacity, determination, and hard work have turned a forest into a vibrant and wholesome modern community that we are more than proud to call 'home'.