Open your eyes to Wendake dreamcatcher


Wendat-Huron decorations in the longhouse in Wendake feature beautiful talismans called dreamcatchers, meant to snag bad spirits before they reach you. (Julia Pelish/Vacay.ca)

Photo by Julia Pelish
Vacay.ca Visuals Editor 

WENDAKE, QUEBEC — The dreamcatcher is a First Nations decoration that is reputed to act like a talisman, warding off harmful occurrences and bringing good luck. Fabricated to resemble a spider’s web, the dreamcatcher also snares threats and captures opportunities.

During my visit this week to the fascinating village of Wendake in Quebec, I came across numerous dreamcatchers, including this one that hangs in the Huron village, a tourist attraction that replicates traditional aboriginal life. Visitors can take part in demonstrations and workshops that give an immersive experience into First Nations culture, as well as find hand-crafted items from a range of Canadian aboriginal cultures, and explore the history of the community.

The village, part of the Huron-Wendat nation, features a longhouse, where extended families would live. Many people — sometimes dozens — would sleep in a longhouse, which is akin to a dormitory. Sleeping compartments would be stacked like bunks on either side of the structure and be decorated with animal pelts. Dreamcatchers would hang above, catching sunlight as well as nightmarish scenarios.

This one shown here was photographed inside the Wendake site’s longhouse with a Nikon D7000. The camera was set at ISO 400, using a 16-85mm zoom lens set at f7.1. The photo was taken at 35mm with an exposure time of 1/60th of a second.

A suburb of Quebec City, Wendake is one of the most affluent First Nations locales in Canada. It has a luxury hotel, fine-dining spots, and several attractive homes lining its streets. A visit here gives you a sense of the history of Canada’s aboriginal people and an awareness of how their culture has integrated with the rest of the country.

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A photographer who has worked in the largest media markets in Canada and the U.S., Julia’s travel photos and videos have been featured prominently in the Toronto Star and been exhibited in galleries in Toronto, New York and Vancouver. Her new line of photo jewelry was inspired by her travels. Even though she is an American, one of her favourite travel experiences was spending Canada Day 2000 on Parliament Hill, joining in a parade with then-Prime Minister Jean Chretien and others. Julia is Vacay.ca’s Visuals Editor. See her work at www.juliapelish.com/blog.

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