Tourism brings up visions of basking in the sun and waiting for your stolen American Express traveller’s cheques to be delivered to you, while you casually sip on your “tres forte” Pina Colada in some remote yet accessible Caribbean hideaway.

Watch out, sun-lovers. The Crees of James Bay have established tourism products for the unspoiled tourist, the tourist ready to swallow a few mosquitos and live to brag about it. Today, you can travel the James Bay coast in 10-foot swells with the sturdy Cree-Yamaha kevlar-coated boat or with the standard cedar-canvas back, motoring along with a minimum of 40 horses stern handled by a salt-water-worthy Cree guide or freeze in sub-zero temperatures on a snowmobile travelling at 80 km/h from Cree community to Cree community.

Yow! Talk about adventure!

Travelling with the Quebec Crees of James Bay in any season is an experience worth remembering. Imagine setting up your tent with gale winds threatening to take your breath away and then looking for firewood to fuel your hand-made wood stove in the land of no trees! How about cruising interior Quebec with your trusty snowmobile and learning the ancient art of catching the finest fur-bearing animal in North America—the beaver—and then eating it with your gracious host! The Cree traditional lifestyle literally smells of adventure to both the experienced and inexperienced alike. This is literally crossing the cultural border in your own Canadian backyard and returning home in time to enjoy the Sunday funnies.

Gone are the organized ABC’s of summer camp and well-marked trails. Summer camp was never like this, where children are expected to participate in all daily chores and then rewarded with respect for their accomplishments. Where all adults share in the responsibility of everyone’s welfare, regardless of their age.

Parents. Imagine your child catching their daily food (within legal guidelines) and watching their efforts turn into “bush food,” the hardy fare of the Northern Quebec Crees. Children. Imagine your parents paddling all their worth in a 20-foot freighter canoe to escape the pounding waves on some rocky Northern Quebec James Bay shore, just to be soaked anyway by the salty near-zero temperature waters in pursuit of delicious black ducks or wait patiently in the camouflaged blinds of experienced goose callers luring Canada geese, which in turn are turned into delicacies such as smoked-dried goose, boiled gizzards or the popular whole goose slowly cooked by an open fire. There are many ways to cook a goose, by the way, and Cree women are experts at it.

Tourist products like these are available now and advance reservations are most welcome and recommended. Recently, Cree tourism has developed into a combined and adventure-ecological-educational experience designed to culturally alleviate your understanding of the universe beyond Ste-Catherine Street. Along with the actual physical experience, you will enhance your life with the true knowledge of the northern lands, taught to you by the people who live with it, along with ecological insights and the very true hardships that come with it.

But there is a danger in the potential influx of other non-aboriginal cultures which may influence your hosts, so great care is taken by Cree tourist promoters to ensure that the aboriginal lifestyle is not taken into the same perspective as those “traditional” tourist products of UV-laden, rum-sodden tours usually offered to Quebec Snowbirds. These products are made for your personal, physical and cultural enlightenment and give a greater enjoyment of the Northern Canada and Quebec environment and the kind, gracious and hardy people who inhabit it year-round.