The Best Experiences to Discover the Indigenous Culture

Équipe édito
Editorial Team
Published on February 3, 2023
A couple walks outside the snowy longhouse with a guide, in Wendake near Québec City.
Longhouse in Wendake, Francis Gagnon

Kwe! The friendly locals of Wendake wish you a warm welcome in their language, which has existed for millennia and is still alive today. Home to the only Huron‑Wendat Nation in Canada, Wendake is proud of its roots and its culture and proud to share them with visitors curious about the nation’s history and traditions. Discover a cradle of Huron‑Wendat heritage and culture just 15 minutes from Québec City.

Stay at the First Nations Hotel & Museum Complex

A stay in this four‑star hotel is an experience unlike any other. You’ll be drawn in by the warm interior design of the rooms and common areas and the architecture of a boutique hotel inspired by teepees and longhouses. The carefully curated décor in the rooms features local plants and wildlife, and all of the rooms face the Akiawenrahk River—a reminder of the sacred ties between the Huron‑Wendat and nature. The hotel is also home to La Traite, a multiple‑award‑winning restaurant with dishes that celebrate the local terroir.

Visit the Huron-Wendat Museum

Located within the First Nations Hotel & Museum, this museum will take you on a captivating journey into the historical heart of the Huron‑Wendat. The permanent exhibition features objects grouped under 3 cultural themes: knowledge, memory, and territory. Dedicated to the conservation and promotion of Huron‑Wendat heritage, the museum also speaks to the nation’s dynamism today.

Craft workshops are offered year-round, including the activity of making a talking stick, a symbolic object used in tribal councils to help regulate dialogue. Something that may come in handy at home!

Be Amazed by an Immersive Multimedia Night Walk

Enter the enchanting world of Onhwa' Lumina, an immersive journey through the forest that celebrates the life and values ​​of the great Wendat Nation through the magic of light, sound and video projections. With a length of 1.2 km, Onhwa' Lumina is open to the public at dusk. 

Hear Stories and Legends in the Ekionkiestha’ Traditional Longhouse

The guided tour of the Huron‑Wendat Museum includes an unforgettable visit to the traditional longhouse. Sit down around the fire and travel back in time as a member of the community tells you stories and legends that date back to pre‑contact times. You’ll be served bannock bread cooked on a stick over the fire and Labrador tea or hot chocolate. For a truly unique experience, spend the night in this majestic longhouse with the guardian of the 3 fires as your guide.

See a Traditional Dance Performance

Traditional dances are an integral part of First Nations celebrations. The energy of the dancers will leave you speechless. 

In summer, dancers and drummers from First Nations across North America gather in Wendake for the annual pow wow. These events are a powerful affirmation of identity and are rooted in First Nations cultures, rituals, and traditions, making them a uniquely authentic experience for anyone attending. In addition to the traditional dancing and singing, there are many craft and food vendors. The dancers wear what is called regalia. Every dancer makes their own, weaving symbols of their identity into their garments, so each one is unique.

Experience Huron Wendat Culture at Onhoüa Chetek8e Traditional Huron Site

A guide in traditional clothing welcomes you to a meticulously reconstructed Huron‑Wendat village, where you’ll get to tour a giant teepee and a longhouse and see a smokehouse and drying racks—2 very important tools for preserving meat. You’ll also see the sweat lodge and learn how it’s used for purification. Through your guide’s explanations, you’ll learn about the Huron‑Wendat way of life and how snowshoes and canoes—the traditional means of transportation—are made.

Wrap up your visit with a traditional meal at NEK8ARRE featuring wild game (elk, deer, and bison) and fish (trout and salmon). Last but not least, visitors can explore the natural surroundings of this enchanting site in a canoe, rabaska canoe, or on snowshoes.

Eat at an Indigenous Restaurant

First Nations cuisine is all about bringing out natural flavours, which is part of what makes the dishes so surprising and unique. Game meat and fish are major staples, as are native plants like wild mint, balsam fir (used to make jelly), wild berries, and black spruce. As for bannock, it’s a dough made with flour, yeast, salt, and water that’s then rolled around a stick and roasted over the fire on every side until it’s nice and crispy.

The menu at La Traite is 100% local, with dishes featuring boar and Arctic char. You could also stop in for a bite at La Sagamité and try the stew of the same name. Made with game meat, corn, squash, and red beans, this delicious traditional dish has stood the test of time. You can even try it out at their branch in Old Québec. Over at Onhoüa Chetek8e Traditional Huron Site, NEK8ARRE serves up deer and elk venison and trout in a warm down‑home atmosphere.

Buy Indigenous Art or Crafts

Through their work, First Nations artists and craftspeople are able to share their culture and bridge the divide between history and modernity. Souvenirs such as dreamcatchers, jewellery, masks, and totems often have a spiritual significance. The moccasins and other leather goods are also in high demand.

Wendake has a few boutiques, including one at the Huron‑Wendat Museum and another at Onhoüa Chetek8e Traditional Huron Site. There are also a few boutiques in other parts of Huron‑Wendat territory.

Lovers of Inuit art will find their happy place at the Brousseau Gallery on Rue Saint‑Louis, which has been representing artists from the Canadian North for over 40 years.

Visit Museums with Indigenous Collections

  • At Musée de la civilisation, you can see This Is Our Story, a reference exhibition developed in collaboration with the First Nations living in the province of Québec. 
  • At Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, Québec’s national fine arts museum, there’s Illipunga, a permanent exhibition of the works of some sixty Inuit artists created over the last 60 years.

Meet the First Nations and Inuit Living in the Province

The KWE event! Meet the Indigenous Peoples, which takes place in mid-June at Place Jean-Béliveau, presents an exhibition in the woods near the Grand Marché and is the ideal opportunity to discover these rich cultures. 

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