Many Indigenous cultures, histories, and languages, even in Canada, have disappeared as the Elders have passed on. Aanischaaukamikw flows from the knowledge that Cree culture must be captured, maintained, shared, celebrated, and practiced. Cree Elders have spoken of the need for a central place for the protection of “the ways”, and have developed a vision for Aanischaaukamikw over several decades.
Aanischaaukamikw is the realization of that vision. It is the Crees’ primary location for preservation of documents, media, and physical objects, designed for preservation, conservation, and knowledge transfer.
More than anything, it is a living, breathing symbol of the James Bay Crees’ determination to preserve and share the stories and legends, the music, the pictures, and the physical objects that show this First Nations people’s unique interaction with the land, expressed through hunting, fishing, trapping, and underscored with a reverence for the land they have walked for 7000 years.
In November 2011 Aanischaaukamikw opened its doors to the public for the first time.
Inspiration for Aanischaaukamikw’s bold design, with its massive laminated spruce beams, comes from the essential structure of the traditional Cree “sabtuan”.
The original design was developed by eminent native architect Douglas Cardinal through a series of visioning sessions and close collaboration with Elders. Cardinal and Rubin Rotman Architects of Montreal brought the project to completion. The finished building conforms to international museum standards making it compatible with other major institutions across the globe.