Eeyou Istchee means “Our Land”. It is Cree traditional territory located in northern Quebec, on the east coast of James Bay and south-eastern Hudson Bay and across the Ontario-Quebec border. It is home to more than 18,000 people.
Despite profound changes in Eeyou Istchee over the last decades, Cree students talked about their close connection to the land and to their families. All Cree storytellers were living or studying in Tiohtá:ke (Montreal) and longed for postsecondary opportunities closer to home and in their communities.
“It is very hard to be in school in the south and miss important cultural activities like spring goose break. These are opportunities for us to re-energize, ground ourselves, reconnect with our ways and practice our language.”
Some Cree students grapple with feeling like they have to choose between western education and our ancestral knowledge.
Walking Out Ceremony
“I envision more of a support network. I like it at the university but I can’t work here. There’s a lot going on and there’s a lot of people. I prefer working at the school board because I can bring my daughter, we can stay there for hours and it’s kind of homey. Indigenous students need to have that, otherwise you’re kind of left to your own devices to figure things out.”
– FPPSE Storyteller