Did you know?
- Aboriginals are familiar with the active ingredient used in pain-killing medicine such as aspirin. The ingredient is found in certain species of willow, such as the pussy willow.
- The Inuit had designed protective eyewear made from bone, deer antlers, and walrus teeth that only let a sliver of light through to the eyes. It protected wearers against the blinding glare of the sun reflecting on snow.
- The kayak is an Inuit invention. The light and streamline one-person watercraft offers quick response and speed. It was designed to hunt sea mammals in the Arctic Seas. Kayaking has become a worldwide sport today and is part of the canoeing competitions at the Olympics.
- Aboriginals shared their remedy against scurvy with Europeans. They boiled fir bark and needles to make a tonic rich in vitamin C.
- June 21 is National Aboriginal Day. It was written into Canada’s Constitution in 1996. June 21 was chosen because it is the day of the summer solstice, which bears important symbolism in Native cultures.
- The canoe originates from Native Peoples. Traditionally made of bark and resin on a light but solid wood frame, the canoe was ideal for sailing on the fast-moving and shallow rivers of the boreal forest, and for portaging. The traditional birch-bark canoe became a model for many types of modern canoes, now made of glass fibre, aluminium, and other materials.
- Game (beaver, moose, and caribou mainly), fish (walleye, trout, salmon, Arctic charr) and seafood (crab, large soft-shell clams): grilled or smoked, these products of the land and sea have always been part of the basic Native diet, depending on their geographical location and the season.
- The fiddlehead fern, a wild vegetable with a very special shape, is also called “crosier”. It is gathered in the spring and today is served as an original side dish for our traditional meals.
- Natives were the first to discover how to extract sap from maples and turn it into syrup. Long before sugar shacks became popular places to visit, they used syrup and sugar to season their food.
- Lacrosse is a team sport invented by First Nation Peoples. Some believe it is the predecessor of hockey.
That many regions, lakes, rivers and places in Québec have names inspired or taken from the Aboriginal languages? Try finding them along your way across all the Quebec regions. Here some examples.
- Abitibi (region) « where the waters separate » Algonquin
- Témiscamingue (region) « deep water» Algonquin
- Macamic (Town) « lame beaver » Algonquin
- Obastika (lake) « there are grasses in the strait» Cree
- Rimouski (City) « land of the moose», « retreat of the dogs » Micmac
- Matane (City) « the beaver pond » Micmac
- Matapédia (City) « lwhere rivers meet» Micmac
- Kamouraska (City) « where bulrushes grow along the river’s edge» Algonquin
- Shawinigan (City) « mountain crest» Algonquin
- Mastigouche (Wildlife Reserve) « where the wood is small» Algonquin, Atikamekw
- Oskélanéo (lake) « bones » Algonquin
- Maskinongé (Town) « large wall-eyed pike» Algonquin
- Les Escoumins (Town) « there are many seeds » Montagnais
- Anticosti (Island) « where the bear is caught» Montagnais
- Manicouagan (Dam) « big cup» Montagnais
- Kegashka (lake) « dangerous cliff » Montagnais
- Oka (City) « the wall-eyed fish» Algonquin
- Matawin (lake) « meeting of two waterways» Cree
- Maskinongé (lake) « large pike» Algonquin
- Mascouche (City) « bear cub» Cree
Cantons-de-l’Est Montréal Montérégie
- Hochelaga (Ancient city) « where we spend the winter » Iroquois
- Missisquoi (Bay) « fat women» (missiskwok) Algonquin
- Missisquoi (Bay) « where flint stone is found » (masipskoik) Algonquin
- Yamaska (River) « toad» Abénaquis
Eeyou Istchee & Baie-James
- Assinica (Wildlife Reserve) « a very rocky place» Cree
- Minaikosakaigan (lake) « spruce lake » Cree
- Eeyou Istchee (Wildlife Reserve) « land of the people » Cree
- Nunavik (Region) « the vast land where we live» Inuktitut
- Torngat (Mountains) « the spirits » (Tuurngait) Inuktitut
- Pingualuit (Crater) « where the land rises» Inuktitut
- Ungava (Bay) « “name given to this bay that “holds back” the ice “like when we love someone and doesn’t want to let him/her go””» Inuktitut
- Outaouais (Region) « trade »Algonquin
- Baskatong (Reservoir) « where ice furls up» Algonquin
- Michomis (River) « ancestor or grandfather » Algonquin
- Cabonga (Reservoir) « entirely blocked by sand » Algonquin
- Chicoutimi (City)« up to the deep water» Montagnais
- Kénogami (lake) « very long lake» Montagnais
- Ashuapmushuan (Wildlife Reserve) « river where moose can be seen» Cree
- Tadoussac (City) « teats » Montagnais