It’s the Cree community that’s the most northern-most, but it’s more than that. It’s the town that has more than one name. Yes, we visited Great Whale, or Whapmagoostui, or Post-de-la-baliene, or Kuujuaraapik. It makes no difference what you call this town because every name is legitimate. It is the only place in Quebec that has four legal names, but it doesn’t matter because each one of them describes the same place, the same frame of mind. A place where the Cree, the Inuit, and non-Natives have gathered and made a life together. The life they have made is good and based on the best everyone has to share and offer to each other. Everyone we spoke to talked about this without exception.
You could see there was a strong tradition of sharing in the way the community welcomed Neil and me. It was in the way people treated us. You could hear community pride in their voices. Some of the community members we talked to weren’t even from Whapmagoostui, but they all said that this was the place to live and bring up children.
When we arrived, people told us about the weather the week before. It was about 30 degrees Celsius. It was considerably different (meaning much colder) when we landed.
Even though it was overcast for most of the trip, I had came to look at and ultimately love this land I visited. Whapmagoostui is close to the edge of the tree line as you can see in the pictures.
I had never seen it before this trip much to the surprise of Deputy Grand Chief Matthew Mukash. I found it beautiful and wild. A place where even in the days of May the ice was still breaking up. Hudson Bay also makes Kuujuaraapik the most foggy place in northern Quebec.
A place where the four-wheeler all-ter-rain-vehicle is king and an all-purpose means of transportation. We found so many trails and so much unspoiled wonder that I have a hard time wondering how we haven’t come here and done a profile on Poste-de-la-Baliene before.
This community is the northern-most outpost of Cree civilization, but as I have said it is more than one name, one town. It is a place where the Cree and the Inuit have always lived together. When we spoke with people they talked about the times past when both were one and had one council. Today, the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement make this community two towns but in the end, once all the outside politics were put aside,
I saw only one. Facilities are shared even as lives are shared.
I saw the hopes, the desires, and the strength of the people who lived there. No matter what the ethnic group, they were strong and true to the north. They were true to the land and what it had to offer them. They shared hardships, but also had the strength to keep each other alive and well.
As for Neil and me, we were welcomed and invited to join in and perpetuate that community spirit. We thank all of you for the offer and the experience of Whapmagoostui, or whatever name you want to call it. Thanks to Air Creebec, the Co-op Hotel and Air Inuit for making this trip possible. A final thanks to all the peoples of the community.