Quebec First Nation bans ‘native spirituality’

aptn National News had a very interesting story on Friday (Jan 14/11) which you can now view on their website.

After supposedly hearing a flood of complaints from its residents, the Cree community of Ouje-Bougoumou in northern Quebec has taken the rather unusual step of banning ‘native spirituality practices’ including sweatlodges, pow wows, rain dances, etc.

It all started when a resident of the community built a sweat lodge and a shelter surrounding it.  A petition was distributed, community meeting held and a resolution passed to ban ‘native spirituality practices’ and dismantle the sweat lodge and anything related to it.

According to the resolution, ceremonies of these kind ‘do not conform with the traditional values and teachings of our Elders,’ because ‘the majority of Ouje-Bougoumou members are Christian-faith oriented and have strong Christian values’.


MI obtained the original resolution:

Ouje-Bougoumou Resolution

And here is the response by Redfern Miascum, the community member who built the now dismantled sweat lodge:

Redfern Mianscum Letter

Now I’m all for the right of any First Nation to exercise its right to govern, but doesn’t this cross a serious line?  Should any First Nation have the right to limit freedom of religion?

32 thoughts on “Quebec First Nation bans ‘native spirituality’

  1. would like to know a little more info about this community. like it’s population and location. but this is pretty sad. and i would not obey the resolution.

  2. I wonder also if all those practices, such as the sweat lodge are “pan-Indian” ones, that were never practiced by the Cree until recently. This might also contribute to their unwillingness of accept these practices.

  3. What this community has done is outside of their power to do; it’s ‘ultra vires’ according to the law. This can and should be challenged and be thrown out. It is a serious infringement on freedom of religion.

  4. The Leadership of this Community is a prime example of how INAC policies want to see us operating. We have the freedom under our own Sovereign Laws and under the Canadian Constitution and Royal Proclamation to be who we are which includes, practice of our beliefs.

    It seems this community wants the Nationhood status but not the status which makes them a distinct Nation.

    Stopping a Community member from practicing his or her own Religion on the freedom of their own Property is a Fascist Dictatorship. Remember War World 2? Some of these “Leaders” Parents or Grandparents probably fought against what they are now doing.

    I suggest the person being attacked by his own people for being an Indigenous Person retaliate and form a petition of his own. The petition will serve to remove the Illegally Imposed INAC Chief and Council system which is in Breach of the Canadian Constitution, Royal Proclamation, the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and their own Cree Sovereignty, which these “Leaders” say they are exercising.

    When Canada allows us to be a Self Governed People under their terms it is really Self Assimilation and Self Extermination and this is what it looks like.

    If People in our Sovereign Nations want to belong to another Nation they can always move off of our Territories.

    If anyone from this community reads this an wants a fire keeper for their Sweat Lodge by all means contact me. I will assist in anyway.

  5. I saw this story on aptn National News last week and also found it interesting. Given the Canadian Human Rights Act will apply to First Nations this year, I wonder if this will be the first complaint filed against a First Nation. In my opinion, this situation is clearly a violation of the Human Rights Act.

  6. If they (those that oppose) were willing to accept the white man’s religion, what in God/Creator’s name are they banning their community member’s choice.

  7. This community is governed under the Cree-Naskapi (of Quebec) Act. This past summer the Grand Council of the Cree of Eeyou Istchee (which this community is a member) passed a resolution unanimously supporting freedom of religion so it will be interesting to see how they respond to this issue. Many of the Cree communities in Eeyou Istchee have large Christian populations and have lived together with traditionalists without major incidents with many that follow and practice both faiths and teachings. This is most likely the action of a few overzealous people who bullied this resolution through without thinking of the consequences.

  8. This denial of rights’ is a violation of the inherent law that governs us as Indigenous Peoples’. To advocate extinguishment of FN spiritual practices, after surviving a widespread genocide perpetuated by the Settler state, is perpetuation and a continuation of it. I am glad the tool of media is assisting to expose all of the injustices (there are many, many) in FN communities by alleged ‘leadership’ that is unjust, self-interested and colonized. These people need to be shamed and exposed….as in times of past.

  9. most sweat-lodges that i know of are more-or-less just a bath. nothing to do while sitting there unclogging pores, sweating than to meditate, sing songs and contemplate how to be a better person. nothing wrong with that.

  10. I think what you are attempting to communicate here is that why should a first nation be viewed as ‘distinct’ from Canadians if they consent to extinguishment of their distinct place as indigenous peoples? The people are the people, nothing can change that, they are sleeping. We need to strip alleged ‘leadership’ of their ‘jurisdiction’ as in my books they demonstrate their incompetence and illigitimacy by actions such as this. For shame….hope that Chief has a red face for a looong time!

  11. I’m Metis with Treaty Status. I’m leading a cause to help First Nation & Metis people with God’s help. I was forced to attend Prince Albert Indian Residential School 1962-67. I believe I have the qualifications & experience First Nation People have suffered.

  12. Well, they truly are assimilated. What exactly distinguishes them as Aboriginal then? Just goes to show that just knowing your language doesn’t mean the culture and traditions will survive. I believe they’ve gone too far.

  13. Well, they truly are assimilated. What exactly distinguishes them as Aboriginal then? Just goes to show that just knowing your language doesn’t mean the culture and traditions will survive. I believe they’ve gone too far.

  14. Shame on them. That community has truly become assimilated, Harper’s government (and previous governments and churches) should be proud.

    I also goes to show that just knowing your language doesn’t insure the culture or traditions will survive…not with like-minded people like those living in that community.

  15. Its sad and shocking to read about the journey of certain First Nation people still corrupted by Assimilation resulting in fear to accept our traditional ritual ceremonies and our Way of Life. They need to find Courage to assist them in regaining Self-Respect and Identity as First Nation People in our Land. Recovery is not a privilege, its a process. When we cross the boundary into a absorb and offensive way, its time to take a good look at ourselves. Then, I ask? How dare people in our First Nation communities be so objected to the use of our ritual Well-Being.” The Sweat Lodge Ceremonies “. Frank Polson Algonquin First Nation Artist. Anyone wishing to contact me can do so via email at or at my home line 819-722-2054 pertaining recovery from Assimilation and Drug Addiction. Meegwetch,

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  17. Such hypocrites if they pass a resolution to stop these types of practices that are not of traditional cree ways. That would mean they would have to ban the Church too, because it wasn’t long ago that the Church was imposed on their people. It’s just overpowered them that they cannot see past the control it has over their people.

    Religion is used to control the masses and is obviously strong in this community. So sad.

  18. lol – yah i suppose so – irregardless – it’s a harmless activity in the sweathouse, if anything it builds self-esteem and self-worth for those involved, my point: nothing to be afraid of.

  19. patronising : The point you seemed to miss ; It’s real and has power like the Christ thing. God has been feared by countles generations ,have some respect .

  20. Alec Oombash
    Thunder Bay, ON.
    Lakehead University
    January 21, 2011

    The Mountains and the Valleys are my Strength.
    The residential school is an issue everyone strives to put behind them, and I for one, being a survivor, certainly had my share of nightmares, but all in all, I kept my sanity. Out of all I went through, I found that it could only be done by applying the motto which is “change your life through learning” that has been so successfully adopted by Confederation College. Tragic losses are but a reflection of my hopes for a better tomorrow, whereas; in that cycle, there seems somewhat very little to be acknowledged.
    One thing that has really set me apart from everything else is the ability to adapt from those mishaps, and some would argue likewise, but having an open mind, is an absolute must. It made me realize that I had picked up so many misconceptions of what really happened. So therefore, I’d like to briefly run through a few of the valleys that I had mentioned. One being the tragic loss of our two step-brothers that went missing when they ran away from the boarding home, where they were at, at the time, and are still missing to this day. Then there was the mental, psychological and the sexual abuse, at the hands of the “Christian community” who were entrusted to educate and look after us in a healthy way. Next was the deliberate substandard education that was administered to us, by these same organizations. In my opinion this is a real obstacle that is still hard to comprehend today, the continuing dogma of the colonial legacy that still oppresses our people today.
    Today I can confidently and accurately say that with a lot of the research that I conducted gave way, forcibly to esteemed intellectual, academic, political, social capacity, to help me move past the discourses, whereas, that capacity, transpired and heightened the expectation for a better way of life, and because I was open to change, it settled my unspeakable differences. It was by embracing the pain that I learned to outgrow the shadows of mayhem, to emerge victorious in many literary and academic institutions alike, where the sheltering and nurturing environment such as Confederation College and later at Lakehead University, offered their caring, positive, and constructive leadership to move me forward. It is by those experiences I now find myself standing in the forefront of all my aspirations, so all that is left to do is, continue to devote myself to research, so that I can do more to help others universally, and stake claim to bring back living hope.
    One other thing that I would like to make mention is how beautifully orchestrated these institutions are, and furthermore, set in motion a theme of excellence and perfectionism, which reflect a revived life to the appeal of the world, capturing gratitude, bringing honour to our founders, who conquered mountains that needed climbing, or the many valleys throughout, that had to be crossed. So in conclusion; I can proudly say that I am a part of that dream, a dream that woke up our nation through education.
    Yours in honour,
    In reality we should be supporting our people, not break them down further down and oppress them, we got to break away of the colonial legacy or as I quoted; (next was the deliberate substandard education that was administered to us, by these same organizations. In my opinion this is a real obstacle that is still hard to comprehend today, the continuing dogma of the colonial legacy that still oppresses our people today.) Because a lot of our own people have gotten their minds turned around, and just continue doing what the government, church intended to do.
    This RCMP website tells us, we have a right to do what we want in the ceremonies we have been doing for years before contact, and furthermore, check out and do a self-education on yourselves, from this book by Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Herder and Herder.
    Our rights and our ways are much more important. People of Cree community of Ouje-Bougoumou in northern Quebec, do not, I repeat, do not go against your own people, your real identity, your dignity, your place in society, your recognition in government, instead collectively join together in a unified world view and become unified as a people, and a nation, a nation that wants a good future for the next 7 generations, it is how we have always planned anyhow, we plan for the 7 generations, we don’t plan for ourselves. Let’s show others and the world we say who, we say we are, a very proud Indigenous Nation, indigenous to our ways and our beliefs and certainly Indigenous to the rest of the world. So let’s show the world who we truly are as a people.

  21. Christianity is a pan-european practice that orginates from the middle-east. AnyPurification Lodge, Raindance/Sundance, or “pow-wows” orginate from the western hemisphere.

  22. I’m not saying I agree with these elders, but if they grew up with Christianity, it’s not surprising that they are not so open to having traditions they aren’t familiar with in their community. I hope Ouje Bougamou works something out.

  23. when the government banned the native culture back in the late 19th century, they wanted the indians to be christianized and live in a democratic world.  Our elders have fought for, denied, and refused to be assimulated into the ‘white’ world…..this is the best example of assimulation which these ‘white’ natives have done, which to me is very sad, disturbing and closed minded. 

  24. By what qualifications and authority do you purport to act as Inquisitor?
    Are you implying that the Cree in this area ( or any other area) and/or this lodge-builder do not have an authentic relationship either current or historical with sweat ceremonies?
    What? They saw it on TV or read it in a Karl May novel?

    Anyone who makes the claim to be Christian and who participated in this act of repression (or lent this act some form of support) is an insecure failure at being Christian – or dven a half-decent human being.

    There is no nuance or need for “understanding” nor for “acceptance”.
    This situation is a clear unjustifiable and unlawful act of repression and an incitement to disharmony.

  25. What is it in YOU that motivates your support/justification/rationalization for the clueless/insecure/repressive behaviour of those who reject their past yet have not integrated their future?


    I think of Christianity as the official Roman authorized colonial religion to promote peace in the unwashed reaches of the Empiah
    A kind of Judaism 2.0 which missed the love and liberation parts and reverted/converged on the obeisance and asskissing to the Almighty’s protection racket agents…
    There are the Liberation Theology and Original Blessing branches… but they wouldn’t be the ones shitting on sweatlodges

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