About Waswanipi 

History and Culture

Waswanipi is a Cree community in central Quebec, located near the confluence of the Opawica, Chibougamau and Waswanipi Rivers. The community has a population of about 1,400.

Traditional Night Fishing - Allan L. Cooper 2004/2005The word “waswanipi” is usually translated as “reflection on the water”. Some people say this word refers to the traditional night-time fishing method the locals, consisting of luring fish to light by using torches. Our name community is “Waswanipi” which in English translation means Light on the Water. This name is a reference to a time when fishing was guiding by the use of torches fuelled by pine tar during the spearing of fish at the spawning ground at the mouth of the Waswanipi River.

The village was founded as a trading post by the Hudson’s Bay Company. The post was closed, however, in 1965. Its residents dispersed until 1978. That year, the new village of Waswanipi was built about 45 km upstream the Waswanipi River from the former location.

The people of Waswanipi speak Cree, English and French. The community has various public facilities including several businesses, administration buildings, post-office, schools, fire-hall and last but not least the Arena, which our people have made full use of.

Chiwetau Poster 2009 - Stanley Saganash 2009/10The cultural activities include chiiwetau (“going home”), an annual summer gathering for the community at the site of the old community (often referred to as the “Old Post”) on Waswanipi Lake.

The community, also, organizes canoe and snowshoe journeys to help keep the knowledge of the old routes and travel techniques alive amongst the young.