An Opportunity for 360° Holistic Community Development
The More than 350 Initiative is a collaborative response to a once-in-a-generation opportunity: a major anniversary of regional, national, and international importance.
On March 7, 2023, at beginning of Sikwan – early spring, the first season in the Cree year – an opening ceremony will launch the and the year-long commemoration of “More Than 350 Years in the Making: Moose Factory in Omushkego Aski from Time Immemorial to 1673 to 2023
.” Major events and activities in the Moose Cree Homeland
will continue through all six Cree seasons, finishing with a closing ceremony on February 19, 2024.
Our goal is not only to celebrate and commemorate a living history, but to use these events and activities as a catalyst for 360° Holistic Economic and Community Development that integrates culture and language revitalization, reconciliation, education, art, music, health, etc. We also hope this two-pronged More than 350 Initiative can be a model for other Northern & Indigenous regions, and also for Canada as it seeks to envision reconciliation founded on reciprocity for all Treaty peoples
An Anniversary of Local, Regional, National and International Importance
is one of Canada’s oldest continuous sites of Indigenous-European relations and intermarriage and a National Historic Site
. Established as Moose Fort in 1673, on a much older Cree gathering site, the Hudson’s Bay Company’s second oldest post evolved into the headquarters of its Southern Department. Canoes and ships have been built here, reflecting its role as a trans-Atlantic and trans-continental communication hub. Prior to Newfoundland’s adhesion to Canadian Confederation, it was also Canada’s oldest surviving English-speaking permanent settlement.
Re-Centring our History
The significance of 1673-2023, however, extends well beyond the establishment of a fur-trade post on Moose Factory Island. It presents an opportunity to explore a broader and deeper history of the region, with emphasis on the heritage of hospitality and reciprocity that has seen Eeyou Cree
, other Omushkego Cree
, and diverse Indigenous and European peoples welcomed into Moose Cree Homeland
, friendships, and families for centuries.
Following Our Elders’ Example
In 1973, Moose Cree First Nation leaders and members worked with other Moose Factory residents to plan a tricentennial anniversary celebration
that had a big impact on our community and emphasized that “In this land, no achievement by any people is real unless it respects those who are its First People.”
The MRHHA’s objective is to follow their example and leverage the More than 350 anniversary year to draw attention to the much deeper and broader history of our community and region.
Lead-Up Events & Planning since before 2020
After a public meeting in January 2020, the MRHHA established a More than 350 Committee
, open to all community members in Moose Factory
. Co-chaired by Bernice Kapashesit
and Virginia Barter
, this committee has been holding regular planning meetings, that remain open to the public and new members, as well as larger public information meetings. Despite the challenges created by a global pandemic, our Committee wanted to do more than plan for 2023. Starting in March 2021, with our inaugural Storytelling Celebration
(a 2 hour virtual variety show), we began organizing lead-up events and activities that celebrate or foster interest in our history, heritage and culture.
Whenever possible, we have been partnering with other organizations on existing or new events and activities. We have also invited local and regional organizations (non-profit, private and public) appoint a representative to our 350th planning committee, and to identify annual or stand-alone events, initiatives or activities that could be linked with, and supported by, the More than 350 initiative, and which could be given a More than 350 flavour or component. We have also invited other partners and participants across Canada and the Atlantic to join with us. These remain standing invitations.