-Cree theatre recognized

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The Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute of Oujé-Bougoumou has won national recognition from the Canadian Museums Association for their theatrical program of Mind’s Eye: Stories from the Heart of Eeyou Istchee. Directed by playwright Shirley Cheechoo and involving young actors from the Cree community, the play was performed in coastal and inland community schools throughout Eeyou Istchee, travelled over 3500 kilometres in March 2014 and was seen by over 2000 people.

Described as a powerful theatrical display that encompasses the values of the Cree Nation, Mind’s Eye garnered the honour of the Award of Outstanding Achievement in Education. Dr. Sarah Pashagumskum, Director of Programs for Aanischaaukamikw, related that receiving this awards is “an extremely special moment in the life of this new institution.” And was pleased to acknowledge the recognition of the museum, education and arts communities of Canada.

Pashagumskum added that the opening of the Aanischaaukamikw Cultural Institute in 2012 was “the completion of the extraordinary vision of our Elders, and [was] realized through the partnership of the Crees, governments and the private sector. Mind’s Eye is a wonderful expression of what we are all about: protecting, preserving and passing on the richness of our stories, our ways, and our culture.”

The Canadian Museums Association praised the Cree production for its innovation in using live theatre to relate oral history to new audiences, changing people’s perception of their heritage and strengthening communication between youth and Elders.

Occupying 30,000 square feet, the cultural institute and museum is the primary location for preserving the documents, media and physical objects that represent the history and traditions of the James Bay Cree, a crucial player in preservation, conservation and the transfer of knowledge.

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