There are as many ways to travel as there are travellers. So why not head out on the Museum Route to discover the Indigenous world of yesterday and today?
A fun-filled journey through time and space is what’s on offer in this cultural activity, which aims to share memories handed down since time immemorial, all with the utmost respect for tradition and modernity. This is the narrative that animates the Indigenous museums, as well as those cultural sites and interpretation centres promoting our heritage and sharing our cultures.
To begin with, let’s honour the pioneers: Founded in 1965, the Musée des Abénakis is the doyenne among Québec’s Indigenous museums. Its collection is composed of 126 cultural artifacts, and in addition, the museum celebrates nature with a hiking trail along the Saint-François River.
Nature and culture also blend at the Musée ilnu de Mashteuiatsh, located on the banks of Pekuakami (Lac Saint-Jean), and celebrated for its immersive and innovative programming. In 2021, it won the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Canadian Museums Association for its show Tshilanu Ilnuatsh, which translates as “We, the Ilnuatsh.”
In Uashat, the Musée Shaputuan houses a permanent collection that retraces the ancient history of the Innu and the ECONOMUSEUM® of Maskisin, Canada's first indigenous economuseum, shares thousands of years of expertise in indigenous craftsmanship and ancestral techniques.. The Huron-Wendat Museum in Wendake off ers audio guides in six different languages for its collection. Both museums invite you to take a trip back thousands of years into ancient history. Also located in Wendake, the Huron site Onhoüa Chetek8e provides a reconstructed traditional Indigenous village including a range of activities so you can absorb the heart of Huron-Wendat culture.
At the foot of Mont Saint-Hilaire, the Maison des peuples autochtones is a multi-nation museum that offers a number of activities relating to Indigenous history with an emphasis on maple-syrup production.
In Baie de Gaspé, you’ll find the Mi’kmaq Interpretation Site of Gespeg, which showcases a striking reproduction of a Mi’kmaq encampment, where guides and artisans share their culture’s dynamism with visitors. On the opposite shore, at Ekuanitshit, is the unique, avant-garde Maison de la culture innue d’Ekuanitshit, which derives its inspiration from the Innu longhouses and way of life, while also highlighting its proximity to the paradisal Mingan Archipelago.
Both located in the Eeyou Istchee Baie-James region, the Chisasibi Heritage and Cultural Centre and the Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute honour the values, culture, history, and traditions of the Eeyouch. The Chisasibi Heritage and Cultural Centre emphasizes intergenerational connections, while the Aanischaaukamikw Cultural Centre promotes direct interaction between visitors and their on-site researchers, curators, and museum guides.
Many Indigenous cultural sites are closely involved with their communities, with their activities going beyond acting as historical witnesses and offering spaces for cultural sharing and exchange. Such, for example, is the case in Shawinigan at the Onikam Cultural Space, which facilitates meaningful forays into Atikamekw culture through free activities offered to all visitors, as well as the Centre Sakihikan at the La Tuque Indigenous friendship centre, which brings Indigenous experiences to life using virtual reality and offers a number of multidisciplinary workshops.
In Kahnawake, the Kanien’kehá :ka Onkwawén :na Raotitióhkwa Language and Cultural Centre offers educational programs in a wide range of areas in addition to its museum presenting Kanien'kehá:ka culture.
The openness of Indigenous museums is evidenced through their collaborations with many other non-Indigenous institutions, such as the McCord Museum. A valued partner in the promotion of Indigenous culture, the McCord houses one of the largest collections of historical objects left by First
Nations in North America.
These Indigenous museums and cultural sites are living spaces, sites where traditions, knowledge, and experiences are proudly shared and showcased. Each of these institutions represents a site for cultural exchange between people and a port of entry into ancestral cultures, bringing to life not just a vibrant present, but a host of tomorrows that are full of promise.
Get out there and discover them!
Visit our art and culture section to discover the diversity of our offer on Indigenous Québec!