A Brief History of Mushkegowuk Council
The Mushkegowuk Council is the senior representative for 7 First Nations in the Western James Bay and Hudson’s Bay. These include Attawapiskat First Nation, Taykwa Tagamou First Nation, Kashechewan First Nation, Fort Albany First Nation, Moose Cree First Nation, Chapleau Cree First Nation, and Missanabie Cree First Nation.
The Mushkegowuk Council can trace its origins back to the late 1970’s. At that time, the Chiefs of the James Bay communities formed what was known as the James Bay Tribal Council to work together in addressing common concerns. In the early 80’s, the organization was renamed Mushkego Cree Council. In 1984, the council became Federal incorporated and shortly thereafter, during an assembly in Kashechewan, it was again renamed to what it is known as today, Mushkegowuk Council.
A board of 8 Directors governs the Mushkegowuk Council. These members include a Chief or Counselor from each First Nation, plus the Chair of the Council. Their goal is to ensure the member First Nations work together to meet the needs and aspirations of their citizens.
We have a general mandate to carry out the collective will of our members in exercising self-government then promoting self-reliance and local control, providing our members in such areas as Health, Education, Fire Protection and Community Advisory Services and enhancing our unique cultures, traditions and languages.
The Mushkegowuk Council is accountable to its members through the Directors, and through an Assembly of Chiefs, Councilors, Elders, Women and Youth delegates. The Council also publishes a quarterly newsletter, titled Weetamakaywin, to inform its members of happenings in the area and outside.
Mushkegowuk can mean two different things. One refers to the Mushkego. The people who lived there were very strong and powerful and that is the second reason we are given the name Mushkegowuk. Our grandfathers unloaded the Hudson Bay Company ships when they came in. The word Mushkegowuk is a reflection of our traditional culture, where we use powerful spirits to protect ourselves.
It is said that there are two kinds of Polar Bears; the greatest Polar Bear was used for spiritual help in our traditional culture.
So these are the reasons why our Elders have chosen the name Mushkegowuk Council for our organization. When we are talking about the people we say Omushkegowuk, and our territory is called Mushkegowuk Aski.