Canadian Anthropology Society (CASCA)
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
The Iyiyiwch have been using the concept of heritage since the 2000s, along with what they present as its conceptual equivalent: iiyiyuu iituun, meaning the “Iiyiyuu way of doing”. However, although the Iyiyiwch have signed several agreements since the 1970s with the governments of Quebec and Canada, the term iiyiyuu iituun was never associated with the term heritage before the 2000s. In this paper, I will present the conceptual and political aspects of the strategy of self-heritagization elaborated by the Iiyiyuwch, primarily by the Cree Nation Government in collaboration with the Band councils of the nine Iyiyiwch communities. This analysis is based on my Ph.D. research project in anthropology involving one year of ethnographic enquiry among the Iyiniwch of Waswanipi.
The meaning of Iiyiyuu iituun is interpreted in diverse ways among the Iyiniwch of Waswanipi. This vernacular polysemy and equivocation are intensified when iiyiyuu iituun is translated in reference to Western concepts: in the popular sphere it is associated with culture, whereas in the political sphere it is also associated with heritage in English or patrimoine in French. Heritage is, in that sense, becoming a more substantial tool for the Iyiyiwch to enhance their self-governance in terms of iiyiyuu iituun. This is notably demonstrated through the strategy of self-heritagization they have elaborated since the 2000s, starting with the Archaeology and Cultural Heritage Program in 2002, as well as their participation in the 2008 consultations which led to the Loi sur le patrimoine culturel, adopted by the Quebec government in 2012.