Who we are?


The Cree Nation of Wemindji is one of the nine communities under the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA) signed in 1975 by the Cree, Inuit, Quebec and federal governments. It is located at the mouth of the Maquatua River on the east coast of James Bay, in northern Quebec, Canada.

Some history

Wemindji, from the Cree word “wiimin uchii” meaning “ochre hills”, gets its name from the red pigment found in the geography surrounding it. This fairly new community comprises Cree families that originally lived at the trading post known in Cree as “Paakumshumwashtikw”, in French as “Vieux-Comptoir”, and in English as “Old Factory.” This trading post was founded in the 17th century and was alternately under British and French control. Old Factory Band, as it was called at first, was established in 1951 on an Island of Paakumshumwashtikw, 45 km north of the current location. In 1959, it was relocated at its present position.

Historians say that the great explorer Henry Hudson and some loyal crew members were cast adrift, following a mutiny, in a small boat in 1611 on James Bay, near the Old Factory/Wemindji area. They were never seen again, but rumours say that they reached our community!

Tradition and the Cree way of life

The Cree people who live here, who also call themselves Iyiyuuch, meaning “the people,” have a deep attachment to their past. They keep our traditions alive. Our elders are the bedrock of our Iyiyuu/Cree society, keeping traditions alive through stories and legends. It is what makes our nation unique and our people strong. Most lakes, rivers and mountains have a name and a story, sometimes many, associated with them. This knowledge has been, and continues to be, passed down through generations.

The Iyiyuuch continue to practise the ancient hunting, fishing and trapping way of life that sustained our ancestors since time immemorial. Traditional activities and events, such as the spring and fall goose hunt and the walking-out ceremonies, continue to be a vital part of our community life. Today a third of our population still lives year-round in the bush, and others return to their family traplines on weekends or when they have free time. It has been said that Wemindji is like a ghost town when the geese hunt is at its prime.

A modern community

With a fast-growing population of 1,444 (2016), Wemindji is much like a modern small town. Visitors will find state-of-the-art infrastructure, various sporting facilities, a school, a community center, cultural villages, a shopping center/mini mall, its own hydroelectric plant, a fully equipped fire station and police station, a clinic, and numerous businesses, such as a gas station, a motel, a bed and breakfast, outfitting and adventure tourism, an arts and crafts shop, just to name a few.

Montréal, which is approximately 1,400 kilometres to the south, is the closest major city.