Chisasibi, Quebec Canada

Discover Chisasibi, Quebec: A Village Steeped in History and Culture

Chisasibi, Quebec, a Cree village located on the eastern shore of James Bay, is a place of rich history and vibrant culture. Nestled on the south shore of La Grande River, Chisasibi is less than 10 km from the river's mouth. It is one of nine Cree villages in the region and is a member of the Grand Council of the Crees of Quebec. The territory surrounding Chisasibi is part of the municipality Eeyou Istchee James Bay, jointly managed by the municipalities of the Jamésie TE and the Cree Regional Authority of the Eeyou Istchee TE. The town spans a surface area of 491.63 km2, while the associated Chisasibi Cree village municipality covers 825.11 km2.

The Historical Journey of Chisasibi, Quebec

The Cree have inhabited the region for centuries, leading a nomadic lifestyle. In 1803, the Hudson's Bay Company established Fort George, a trading post on the north shore, which was relocated to the largest island at the mouth of La Grande River in 1837. Fort George transitioned into a permanent village in the early 20th century as the local Cree population settled nearby, abandoning their nomadic way of life. By 1940, its population had grown to about 750, and by 1980, it had nearly tripled to almost 2,000.

The mid-1970s marked a significant change for the community with the commencement of the James Bay hydro-electric project. This project led to the diversion of upstream rivers into the La Grande watershed, causing significant erosion of Fort George Island and disrupting the formation of a solid ice cover in winter. In response, the Quebec Government built a new community on the mainland's south shore in 1981, relocating the population and some 200 houses to the new site. The village was renamed Chisasibi, and the Fort George Relocation Corporation was formed to oversee the relocation.

The Cree Nation of Chisasibi, Quebec

Chisasibi is the northernmost Cree village accessible by road in eastern North America. A 90 km paved road, running from Radisson and parallel to the Grand River, connects Chisasibi to the James Bay Road. The James Bay Road, built from 1971 to 1974 as part of the James Bay hydroelectric project, connects Matagami to Radisson. Chisasibi Airport, located just west of the village, offers scheduled service operated by Air Creebec.

The Cree in Chisasibi engage in hunting, trapping, and fishing activities, with all catch intended for local consumption. Other economic activities include local services such as health care and education, employment by Hydro-Québec, and some hospitality services. The Cree Nation of Chisasibi Office is administered by an elected Chief, Deputy Chief, and Council.

Demographics of Chisasibi, Quebec

Chisasibi is home to approximately 5,000 Cree, about 250 Inuit, and 300 non-native people. The 2021 Census by Statistics Canada shows a total population of 4,985. The 2006 Census indicates that the median age of the population is 24.1 years old, with 66.2% of the population aged 15 and over. The total number of census families was 960, with 1,056 private dwellings (excluding seasonal cottages).

Languages in Chisasibi, Quebec

In Chisasibi, Cree and Inuit are spoken as the first language, in addition to English, which is used for official dealings. Only 7.8% of the residents speak one or both of the official languages as a mother tongue. There has been criticism of the Quebec language policy with respect to native languages, particularly Cree, many related to Hydro-Québec's hydroelectric dam project in the James Bay region.

Climate of Chisasibi, Quebec

Chisasibi experiences a subarctic climate (Köppen Dfc), typical of the central latitudes of Quebec, with very cold and snowy winters and mild, rainy summers. This climate contributes to the unique lifestyle and activities of the residents, making Chisasibi a fascinating destination for those interested in experiencing a different way of life.