You can feel the energy when you visit the diverse exhibits at the Musée des Abénakis in Odanak, Quebec.
Mathieu O’Bomsawin, who began working at the museum when he was just 16 years old, understands why. His grandfather — explains the man who now works as the museum’s general manager — founded the institution back in 1965, and his spirit has never left.
Community is at the heart of Quebec’s first Indigenous museum. “Our people's involvement is fundamental to our success. The Abénaki culture is deeply ingrained in our employees, Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike,” says O’Bomsawin. “The site's authenticity inspires others to spread our story worldwide.”
The Abénaki peoples are one of 11 Algonquian-speaking Indigenous peoples living in Quebec. Traditionally, these people were semi-nomadic — fishing, hunting and gathering in order to survive. To this day, the Abénaki culture remains rich in oral history, traditional teachings, art and dancing.
Boasting more than 26,000 items, the Musée des Abénakis features the largest number of Indigenous artifacts and Abénaki art in Québec, on Canada’s East Coast and in New England. Visitors are transported to the early years of Abénaki life and the people's role in Canada’s colonial history as well as the American revolution.
Renovated 12 years ago, the museum is an opportunity to immerse yourself in a venerable culture through a combination of exhibits, educational programs, collections and multimedia.
Just as O’Bomsawin’s grandfather intended, Musée des Abénakis has become a means to transmit the knowledge about the Abénaki Nation to future generations.