Odanak and Wôlinak, the two Wabanaki communities in Québec, are located on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River near Trois-Rivières, between Sorel and Bécancour. There are more than 3,000 Abenaki in Québec, at least 400 of whom live in Odanak and Wôlinak. Hundreds of Abenaki live outside their community, all over North America.
The Abenaki belong to the Algonquin linguistic and cultural family. In Québec, they speak French, and many also know English. The Abenaki language is still spoken by some elders.
Ash and sweetgrass basketry have long been a major source of income for the Abenaki Nation. Every summer, Abenaki families would travel to the United States to sell their baskets, which they made during the winter. Then, in the early 20th century, merchants from Montréal, Toronto and New York City began coming to Odanak to buy products from the Abenaki and sell them raw materials. Abenaki families subsequently stopped taking summer trips to the United States.
Many cultural organizations are dedicated to the protection and dissemination of Abenaki culture. Since 1960, the Société historique d’Odanak has overseen the Musée des Abénakis, one of the largest Indigineous museums in Québec. In addition, a group called Alnôbaiwi holds cultural and community activities that bring together Indigineous and non-Indigenous peoples. Mikwôbait, a dance troupe, also performs in Québec and abroad.
The Abenaki of Wôlinak have a pine plantation and a number of small and medium-sized businesses, including a seniors’ residence, a fibreglass product plant and a garbage and recycling collection company. In 1999, the Abenaki Council of Wôlinak established Carrefour Wôlinak, a business incubator that provides assistance to both Indigineous and non-Indigenous small businesses. Odanak is now home to the Kiuna Institution, the first college dedicated to educating Indigineous peoples in Québec.