Five Years Gone:
Mapping time from non-Western perspectives and the legacies of extraction. The Wemindji Cree Case Study
This innovative 3D model of a map considers the cyclical notion of time, which is central to many Indigenous communities’ conceptualization of the land.
This project will be pursued by adding stories as a fourth dimension to the model. For the Cree in Wemindji, any map must integrate stories of elders.
Coming soon: audio recordings to accompany the map and its documentation!
Team members: Genevieve Reid, Anthony Georgekish, Katherine Scott, Lilian Fraden
Participants: Barney Georgekish, Linda Steward, Landon Stewart, Jeremy Matches, Sinclair, Mistacheesick Irene Mistacheesick, Kristy Franks, Bernard Stewart, Steve Einish, Angus Georgekish
Project Description and Origins
During the MappingBack workshop in 2017, our team built a 3D model of a map that considers the cyclical notion of time, which is central to many Indigenous communities’ conceptualization of the land. This project will be pursued by adding stories as a fourth dimension to the model. For the Cree in Wemindji, any map must integrate stories of elders. We will gather a small group of elders and will record their stories about the Cree cycles of traditional activities, and about the changes that disrupt that cycle. The voices of Wemindji Cree elders will give life to the model that was built
With this project, we will be able to add audio recordings to the Atlas. Clicking on stories will add an interactive option to the 3D model that was built by the team working on representations of time. The cycles of Cree seasons and of traditional activities will be told in Cree by an elder in Wemindji. Other stories will also describe changes that disrupt the cycle. In addition, we will provide short descriptions of the stories in English for the non-Cree speakers. Our project will bring the model alive, situate it in a Cree context, and challenge conventional western notions of a map.
Community Workshop, 2018
On November 29, 2018, the mapping project under the Wemindji Cultural and Wellness Department held a workshop at the Community Hall to continue the map project. The workshop in Wemindji aimed at pursuing that work by adding stories as a fourth dimension to the model. For the Cree in Wemindji, a useful map integrates stories of elders.
Elders, youth, and families, told us that the workshop was a great opportunity to share their stories and knowledge of the land with each other in the Cree language. The workshop was audio recorded to integrate stories in the community members’ own voices into a mapping application. After recording the stories during the workshop, the youth GIS technician in training with the Culture and Wellness Department was able to perform sound editing to clip each of the stories that were told which, with KML coding, will become part of a mapping application. Short English descriptions were also attached to each stories. We recorded ten stories mostly in Cree with some parts in English on the following topics:
-Determining the weather in coming days from environmental indicators
-Weather related issues during break up season and Goose Hunt
-Many stories about snowmobile mishaps
-Symbolism of rainbows that promise not to flood but Hydroelectric developments on the land contradict that
-Impacts of changing winds on Goose season
– How the Goose hunt has changed over the past 40 years
-Weather patterns as omens
-Omens from the environment that serve as weather indicators
By integrating GIS technology into the interview process, the outcome of the workshop facilitates traditional knowledge transfer for the youth in the community as they interact with their own history in the Cree language through the mapping application. We also intend to complete the integration of the stories in the interactive mapping application of the Wemindji Cultural and Wellness Department, which means that the outcomes of the workshop will be accessible to community members and hopefully transferred to future generations. The next steps of the project are to transfer the stories identified by the participants, and to integrate them into the mappingback website. This will allow to give life to the initial model that was built by the team in Montreal. There have been requests for more of these workshops in Wemindji. A three day local Wellness Conference planned for March 2019 will include an afternoon mapping the seasons workshop with the same format we describe here.