The term Wendake had no meaning to me when I signed up to take a tour called “I Am Wendake.” I soon learned of the Wendake’s rich history and what they are doing to preserve their heritage in the Quebec area of Canada.
We started at the Onhoüa Chetek8e Traditional Huron Site — a reconstructed Huron -Wendat village that explains what life was like for this First Nation people. We learned about the longhouses and how families lived. I was surprised to learn that the Wendake people are matriarchal. Our guide, Isabelle, explained more.
“There are four clans: turtle, bear, wolf, and eagle. When I marry, I keep my name and my children will have my name. We are a part of the Turtle clan,” she further explained.
There are roughly 2100 Wendake people living in this self-governing area of Quebec city. Most play a part in preserving its heritage, whether by teaching the nearly-lost language, teaching hunting practices, making crafts, or contributing to the hotel-museum whose profits go directly back to the Wendake community.
Isabelle told us that she often hunts bear, moose, porcupine, rabbit, deer and other game. She has taught her daughter to hunt as well, and prepare the food in traditional Huron-Wendat fashion. We tried some of these meats at Sagamite, where food is prepared much like the Huron-Wendat do. We were treated to Petonce – a pyramid-shaped type of rotisserie that was lit on fire to finish the bite-sized chunks of caribou, venison, and elk that we all clamored to devour.
After a delicious meal there, you can walk back to the Hotel-Museum for storytelling in the longhouse. If that’s not enough, spend the night in the longhouse as I described in an earlier post.
I’d love to go back and learn more about the Wendake people, and other Canadian First Nations.
Are you familiar with these indigenous peoples?