Kawawachikamach, Quebec Canada

Discover Kawawachikamach, Quebec: A Naskapi/Iyiyiw First Nations Reserve

Kawawachikamach, Quebec, is a Naskapi/Iyiyiw First Nations reserve and community located at the southern end of Lake Matemace, where it merges with Lake Peter. Approximately 15 kilometres northeast of Schefferville, Quebec, Canada, this village is a part of the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach. The community was built by the Naskapi/Iyiyiw between 1980 and 1983. The local language, Iyiyiw-Imuun, is a dialect closely related to Innu and Iynu (East Cree). The name Kawawachikamach translates to "the winding river".

Access and Services in Kawawachikamach, Quebec

Access to Kawawachikamach is primarily through Schefferville Airport or the railway from Sept-Îles to Schefferville, followed by a 15 km road from the centre of Schefferville. With the decline of Schefferville as a residential centre for iron ore mining operations, Kawawachikamach and Matimékush have become the main communities in the region.

The community enjoys telephone and postal services provided from the Schefferville exchange by Telebec and from the Schefferville Post Office. Electricity is supplied by the Schefferville Power Company. The Naskapi/Iyiyiw manage their own policing services. Sichuun provides Internet, VoIP, cellular, and IPTV services to the Kawawachikamach/Schefferville region. Other amenities include a community radio station, a healthcare centre, a recreation centre, and a gymnasium.

The History of Kawawachikamach, Quebec

The Naskapi of Kawawachikamach originally hailed from northern Quebec. They were subjected to several relocations before moving from Fort Chimo to Schefferville in 1956. This move may have been induced or ordered by government officials, but no preparations were made for their arrival in Schefferville. The Naskapi initially settled near the airport in shacks built with scavenged materials. However, they were relocated again by the Schefferville municipal authorities to a site on John Lake, where they lived in poverty without access to water, sewage, electricity, schools, and medical facilities.

In 1968, the Matimekosh Reserve was formed, and the Naskapi moved there in 1972, along with the Innu. During the 1970s, the Naskapi began negotiations for a settlement of their aboriginal claims. In 1978, they ceded any rights or interests to the Matimekosh Reserve as a prerequisite to the Northeastern Québec Agreement. This agreement provided for the formation of their own reserve. As part of this agreement's implementation, 41.44 square kilometres of land was transferred from the Government of Quebec to the Government of Canada for the exclusive benefit of the Naskapi band in 1981. By 1983, the first residents settled in the village that was specifically adapted to the environment.

Demographics of Kawawachikamach, Quebec

As of May 2022, the band counted 797 members, with 691 persons living in the community. The population has seen a steady increase over the years:

  • Population in 2021: 641 (2016 to 2021 population change: 6.7%)
  • Population in 2016: 601 (2011 to 2016 population change: 2.6%)
  • Population in 2011: 586 (2006 to 2011 population change: 3.0%)
  • Population in 2006: 569
  • Population in 2001: 540
  • Population in 1996: 487
  • Population in 1991: 405

The community has 194 private dwellings occupied by usual residents out of a total of 203 dwellings. The mother tongue distribution is as follows:

  • English as first language: 2.6%
  • French as first language: 1.8%
  • English and French as first language: 0%
  • Other as first language: 95.6%