Visiting Nemaska, one of the Cree Nation communities in Quebec, is an outdoor adventure to enjoy. Nestled on the shore of the beautiful Champion Lake, one can easily understand why the town was given a name that means 'Place to Fish'. Those interested in looking at Nemaska's natural beauty can visit through Nemiscau Airport, located 7.4 kilometres southeast of the town along Route du Nord at km 294.
Built and operated by Hydro-Quebec, Nemaska Airport makes it convenient to reach this isolated part of the region. Those going here will find that the airport was established on an elevation of 802 ft above mean sea level. It also has one of the more nicely paved runways in the province, which measures 5,000 ft long. This allows for mostly small-sized planes to transport passengers in the area.
What to see & do
Taking in the natural beauty of the vast countryside in Nemaska can make tourists relax in the green surroundings and almost pure water running through the lands. Various activities can be enjoyed here in summer, which takes place between June and November. Sightseeing tours are popular here, with canoe and camping excursions by the lake and hills in the surrounding area. Additionally, a traditional teepee is sometimes provided for travellers out to experience camping out the Native American way. Winter brings its own range of attractions, such as ice fishing on Champion Lake and Rupert River for sturgeon, pike, walleye, and trout. Snowshoe walking, dog sledding, and snowmobile excursions are also possible here, which allows tourists to see more of the countryside covered with a snowy cloak.
Old Nemaska is also a major attraction in the region. Tourists can go on a guided tour and hike on historical portage trails. From here, trekking and beach combing can also be put in the itinerary before checking out other traditional sites. The locals are also welcoming to let visitors experience their culture and lifestyle, which can be fascinating to experience for those who want to learn more about the Cree Nation's ways. Some also host dinners and events where tourists can partake in the traditional cuisine prepared in a tee-pee. Those who want to join can also listen to some camp stories around the evening fire and hear some Cree legends and other snippets of their oral history.
Depending on the season, tourists can also participate in the hunting activities of the community. Hunting for goose and then bears later on occur in the spring, while moose is the prey of choice during the fall with beavers, partridges, ptarmigans, and caribous during winter. One will learn here the whole process of the Cree hunting, from the preparation to the kill, and the field dressing in the various camps.
The customary festivities in Nemaska, such as the Walking Out Ceremonies, are also some of the activities to watch out for during a vacation. These are performed when infants are old enough to walk and dressed in traditional outfits. They will be given toy versions of tools used for hunting – guns and knives for boys and scraping instruments for girls. A presentation to the elders will follow, who will then send them out of the tent with animals hunted and decorated for the occasion. They will complete a circle around a decorated tree, with the boys firing their toy rifles into the air. After completing the circle, they will re-enter the tent and give the animals back to the elders. Another tradition to take part in is observing the night sky for the Northern Lights and the stars during wintertime. This can be inspiring, especially after listening to related legends in this time of the year.
How to get around within Nemaska
When going to Nemaska, tourists should arrange for their own transportation from the airport to the town before their arrival. Those staying at the hotel should inform the front desk of the date of arrival, so they can arrange for pickup. Once here, one can get around on foot unless for those with mobility challenges, who can then contact the Tourism Officer ahead of time to organise transport. Alternatively, tourists can also rent cars at the airport, so they will have their own wheels during their holiday.
Tourists going around the surrounding area can take two possible routes such as the James Bay Road at Matagami, which goes all the way to Radisson, Val D'or, or Amos. There is also the Route du Nord, an isolated gravel road that connects Chibogamau with James Bay Road.
How to get there
When visiting Nemaska, tourists can look for connecting flights to Nemiscau Airport. Air Creebec serves various flights here, which connects to Chibougamau, Chisasibi, Eastmain, Montreal-Trudeau, Waskaganish, and Wemindji.
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