Atikamekw Nehirowisiwok

Translation: Nicole Petiquay

Narration: Nicole Petiquay

0:00 3:45

Atikamekw Nehirowisiwok



We do not own the animals. Our Respect for them has always been part of our myths, stories and customs. It was an honor for our ancestors to be named after animals with similar traits to their own. Our hunting practices also share this Respect. There is a time and a way: with thanks and offerings to the life that is offered to serve our own; never during the breeding season, as is the case today in sport hunting. The animal is conscious of its role in the universe and the need we have for it, it therefore comes voluntarily to the hunter.

Hunting and fishing remain to this day the foundation for the survival of our traditional way of life and represent an essential supply of food for many families. It is also through hunting that several craft practices survive, by supplying the raw materials for their realization. This is why we must conserve resources and protect breeding. For our communities, being a good hunter especially also implies having knowledge of the animal’s behavior and the sense to take it into account for the species’ survival.

The good hunter is also one who shares his catch with the community. Although the arrival of freezers has changed our practices by allowing long term conservation of the meat, sharing is still practiced today but rather among the clan or with family rather than with the whole village as in the past. Thus, the Elders who no longer have direct access to hunting are never forgotten.

For us nothing is lost, all parts of the animal are destined for something, serve a purpose, a practice. All caribou or moose meat is good, everything can be eaten; like wolves, we leave nothing behind.

But nowadays, some parts are thrown away because city life changes our practices. Animal carcasses often left behind by hunters are wasted and this troubles us. The act of exhibiting the moose head on the hood of ones car as a trophy is also troubling, since in our opinion this shows a lack of Respect for the spirit of the animal, to the gift it has given with its life.