Thursday, October 28, 2010

Walk to Gull Island 2010

We just finished walking to Gull Island on Tuesday. We walked for one week. We had a very good time. The weather was good, the land beautiful and my grandchildren were with me. Some of my children joined me for the last day. I will put up more pictures and write a little more later. I am very happy we were able to walk again this fall. It is so important that people know we are still opposing the damns. They are moving too fast, rushing to get started. They need to wait until the Innu have decided what we want.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Chruchill Development Beginning Prematurely

Letter to the Editor of "The Labradorian"

I’m very confused and angry. Why has the government and Hydro started preparing for the dams already? There has been no vote or referendum. The people have not agreed to this and yet it looks like the government is already starting. At Muskrat Falls they have started cutting trees and from the dump road they are making it new in order to bring their machines through. Aren’t they supposed to wait until the Innu people make a decision? This is our land and our river. The government should wait. No one has said, “Yes, go ahead.” Why are they starting so quickly? Every time when the government starts doing a new project, like with Voisey’s Bay and now with the Churchill River Dams, they always ask the Innu youth to come and work. But they are just using them so they won’t say anything. A lot of young people from Sheshatshiu are already working cutting trees at Muskrat. Young Innu people also went to work in Voisey’s, but now there are very few Innu working there. Several years ago with the low level flying protests, many people came together to talk and to fight. But money is so strong now; it has changed people’s minds. Now even the women want more money. Yet, the more money we get, the more we fight amongst ourselves.

This summer we went on the canoe trip again along the Mista-Shipu from August 24 to September 1. There were 6 canoes and 13 people. I’ve done this 13 years now. The canoe trip is not easy. It’s very difficult work, paddling long days. I’m not doing this just for fun; I’m doing this because it’s so important to me and important for the land and my people.

Every summer when I’ve gone on the canoe trip, I feel like I’m surrounded by human beings—the trees, river, mountains—all living, growing things. It hurts me to think about all these things dying. I know animals don’t talk, but I feel like they are saying they want to live. I think about all the people who have hunted and traveled along the Mista-Shipu for all these thousands of years. When the water floods from the dam, all this will be lost. I don’t want to see again what happened in Churchill Falls so many years ago. We lost so many things—burial grounds, Innu hunting areas and many animals. I want to protect the river for all the children. There are many, many children and will be more. I don’t know how many tears I’m going to cry if I see this dam built. When I started the canoe trips, I thought it would make a difference. I feel very sad now.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Starting on the Mista-Shipu

We started paddling yesterday from Churchill Falls. The weather was very good. I think it will be a good trip. We have a smaller group this year, 13 people in total, 6 canoes. I am happy these friends support me and are concerned about Mista-Shipu. The canoe trip is very important to me for maintaining the culture of my people and protecting the land. I was very sad that the Innu from my community who had hoped to come along weren't able to. Next week there is a gathering with the elders and it could be some wanted to stay home for that. The trip also happened at the same time that the community received money from the goverment, which might also be a reason. We are hoping to be back by early September. Please pray for us--for safety and a good trip.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Canoe Trip Next Week

We will be starting the canoe trip this next Tuesday. I have been very busy recently preparing for the trip and so haven’t had time to write, but I will try to write about it when we return. I wanted to ask you all to pray for us for a safe trip. Just like a human being, the trees and the river talk to me, asking me to help them! They are saying “I don’t want to die. Please help me!” I will be very sad if they are damaged and all the animals and river are hurt. It is very important. Thank you for your prayers.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Poster for Canoe trip 2010 coming up in August!

Elizabeth & Francis canoing on Lake Melville during Aboriginal Day at Sheshatshiu.
Elizabeth and Francis by Muskrat Falls along Mista Shipu, one of the proposed Hydro development sites.

Monday, February 15, 2010

New Spring Walk Poster

Please note the change of date for the Spring Snowshoe walk again. Sorry for any inconvenience. The warm weather this year makes it impossible to walk the same path as previous years, and there are many other community events this March. Here is the new poster.

Friday, January 29, 2010

CROSSTALK Radio Noon with Elizabeth

On January 18, 2010 Elizabeth was on CBC Labrador Radio Noon Crosstalk answering questions about Innu way of life and Culture. To download the podcast, "right click" on the link below:

The mp3 file runs 46:16 minutes.

At the cabin

We went to my daughter's cabin after Christmas with my good friend Teresa Andrew. There were 5 of us there, including on of my grandson's. We had a very good time--lots of rest, good country food and good sleeping! Every time I walked along the frozen lake shore I used my snowshoes and thought about the spring walk. I would have liked to stay longer, but my daughter and her husband had to go back to work. It is a beautiful place--you can see in the pictures. The trees are so beautiful with the snow and we had blue skies. I hope you like it!
I even tried snowboarding with my grandson!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Happy New Year 2010!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone! I had a good Christmas. Almost all of my family was here in Sheshatshiu—all of my children were here, only a few grandchildren were in Quebec. After Christmas I had a hard time. There was a 17 year old boy named Sebastien who died in a fire around New Year’s. He walked with me 4 times—twice to Minipi Lake and twice to the Mealy Mountains. He also went on the canoe trip once. He was very young when he started walking with me, but he acted like a hard-working man. He was happy when he was working. He wanted to learn, he didn’t mind if he didn’t know how to do something. He knew Francis or I would show him. Once he walked with his grandmother. He loved his grandmother very much. Sebastien was always worried about his grandmother, he never wanted her to be too far behind the group. Sebastien was also very close to me, just like my grandson, because we spent these special times together. He listened very well when I spoke with him. He understood when he had to be careful if there were dangerous parts on the river or on the walk. He was a very nice boy and an excellent hunter. If I walk again this spring it will be very sad to look at the group walking with me and not see Sebastien. I know he’ll be with us in spirit.

After New Year’s 2010, I worked a little bit. I talked on the Innu Radio Station and said to my people that we should work together, especially the women. Many times I miss working together with other women. Years ago the women would gather for working or sharing together in the tent. There were so many good ideas that the women came up with. I wish we could come back together again. Since women don’t stay close anymore, so many things have happened. If the women would work together we could address some of the big problems—what the government has done to us, what’s happening to the river, problems with drugs and alcohol in the community and so many people sick. At first the problems may seem very, very big, but when we work together we begin to see them getting smaller and it is encouraging. Now it feels overwhelming; we don’t know where to start. But we could make a difference together. It’s not enough for one or two women to talk on the radio. We need to hear all the women. Since I spoke on the radio I have heard several more women talking. It’s important for us to talk on the radio, because it’s all in Innu-Aimun and everyone can listen and understand, even the kids. I invited women to come visit in my tent and my sister’s tent. In the tent people feel more relaxed, not like in a big office or even around the kitchen table. I told my people that we’re not going to just talk about the Churchill River or the same stuff we’ve talked about before. I want to talk about all the concerns women have—any of the issues in our community.

When I see the papers and hear the news about the Churchill River I feel very sad. If the dam starts my tears will be as much as the river. I try to keep working hard, looking for support and doing things to raise awareness. It’s difficult because money is so strong. There still has been no vote for the Innu regarding the dam. I pray often about this.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Reflections since the walk to Gull Island

The other day we had a good meeting. Over 20 old people met with the people working in Innu Nation to talk about the river. It lasted all day. It was mostly Innu in the morning and then in afternoon 5 white people came. I talked and many other people did too. In the afternoon they brought papers to show us what will happen at Gull Island and Muskrat Falls. I didn't like everything they said, but I was glad to have the chance to talk. The white people only talked about certain things… the good things. They didn't talk about bad stuff, such as the mercury, the animals dying, the big machines and the big mess. The people weren't very happy about that. It's very important to talk about all of it. I asked the people at Innu Nation if we could meet again. I said to the people, “Maybe the government thinks everyone agrees with the dam, but that is not true. Most old people are very concerned. Thousands of years the people have hunted along the river.” One woman yesterday said she was born there.

Sometimes when I'm at home I write in Innu and I wish I could draw the mountains and the river. If the government makes another dam I think my tears will be as much as the river. This is what I think about when it's quiet in my house. When I talk about it now with my friend I want to cry. Sometimes it's hard to know what's going to happen. Sometimes I am very angry when I'm writing. What have I been doing for the last 13 years—walking and canoeing? I wasn't just doing those things for fun. It's hard work with very little money. I never think about people paying me or getting rich. I just need enough for people to eat and for gas and supplies for the trips. I wish the government would see what I'm doing. I want to help my people, help the children, and protect the animals. I think, "What did I do wrong?" I wish the government would respect the women and children.

Every time when I do the walks and trips, I'm doing it because I want to help. This fall when I walked on the road from Happy Valley to Gull Island, we walked all day and sometimes we were very tired. We would rest and then it was so hard to get up again. My grandchildren would help me. It's hard to stand up sometimes; I keep going though. Sometimes when I walked on the road the people stopped and said “hi” and that they were happy about what I was doing. This always gave me energy to keep on walking.

I've started exercising every morning in Sheshatshiu. I walk along the beach. There's not much snow. I put my stick in the water and I talk with the water and tell it that I want to help it so it won't die. I pray as I walk. The land and water, my people and young children, animals and trees, grass and flowers--everything that grows, all the medicine--they are all so important to me. I don't know how long I will be able to do this, but I will keep trying.

When I walked this fall along the Churchill Road, sometimes my friends, men and women came out to bring us tea and food. Sometimes the children would ask me, “Who are these nice people?” We were all so happy to see them. One day the weather was very bad, rain and snow, but we decided to walk anyway. Nobody said, “Let’s just stay in the tent.” We decided to leave the tent and walk. The children didn’t complain that they were wet or wanting to go back. I thought, “The children are very strong.” All of us walking were strong, walking in the rain. Sometimes I told the people they could go ahead and I walked behind praying. It was quiet and I would listen to the birds. I called ahead to my son and told him we should stop and make a fire since everyone was wet. My son and another man went to look for a good place with dry wood to make a fire. Everyone was cold and stood around the fire warming their hands. I didn’t know where we should get water. In a minute someone stopped on the road and it was my friend. There was tea, water, soup, sandwiches, and bread. Everyone was so happy and warm. After we ate I kept walking with the children and my friend went back to see Francis in the tent. Later Francis came and picked us up so we could dry off at the tent. It was a good day.

When we left Happy Valley it was like summer, but the last day when we left for Gull Island there was a lot of snow. Some people hadn’t brought boots. We waited until the afternoon to walk the last day. I said, “It was summer when we started walking and now we met winter.” Everyone was happy and proud to have made it.