Shashish|Anutshish : a virtual museum to explore past and present First Nations culture.


First Peoples

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Contemporary First Peoples Designers Collection (Designers autochtones contemporains)

Mashteuiatsh, Ilnu community in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean ; Odanak, Abenaki community on the south shores of the St. Lawrence River, between Sorel and Bécancour ; Uashat mak Mani-Utenam, Innu community from the Côte-Nord, in the Sept-Îles region . These three First Nations communities welcomed the Design et culture matérielle team who offered their craftspeople workshops on the creation of tradition-inspired contemporary works. These 15-week workshops took place in 2004 in Mashteuiatsh, in 2005 in Uashat mak Mani-Utenam, and in 2006 in Odanak, providing participants with the opportunity to experiment with new methods and techniques.

Each craftsperson started the program with personnel knowledge and expertise in one or more techniques handed down from generation to generation: sewing, embroidery, basket-making, leather pleating, wood work, babiche braiding, clothing, basketry, mocassin making, snowshoe making, furniture, etc. Some were also skilled at obtaining and transforming raw materials from nature: moose hide, black ash or white birch splints, birch bark, sweetgrass, spruce roots, porcupine quills, different colored pigments, etc. Such materials are used for the creation of a variety of products.

The workshops were a productive meeting place for both artisans and designers. The artisans were introduced to product design and encouraged to create an identity logo design through drawing, observation, the analysis of colours, forms, and textures found in nature, exploring their dreams, and expressing their creativity. They analyzed their skills from different angles, discovering new ways of applying and presenting them. This process led them through the initial stages of drawing and design to the actual production of new products, eclectic creations resulting from the juxtaposition of traditional skills and new design techniques.

The artisans then designed a poster and the display with which they would showcase their work and share their cultural values with the public.

«This collection provides an opportunity to witness the courage of these artisans in straying from the beaten path and embarking on a soul-searching journey to their ancestral roots, dreams and hopes for the future, filled with the desire to explore and develop their art and transmit their skills and knowledge to future generations. This process lent even more meaning to their life experiences, knowledge, skills, and creative works. […] Their works are a tribute to their talent as artists and to the economic development potential involved.» writes Élisabeth Kaine and Élise Dubuc, Manager and Assistant Manager of Design et culture matérielle: développement communautaire et cultures autochtones (Material Culture and Design: First Nations Culture and Community Development).

The Contemporary First Peoples Designers Collection (Designers autochtones contemporains) showcases these artisans and their works.

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