ISABELLE RICQ            


Archaeological excavations testify of the presence of the Innu people in Canada's North-East coast 8000 years ago. Descendants of a community came by all appearances from Asia by foot, by taking the Bering strait during the last glaciation period, they used to be hunters and gatherers, and their material culture and believes are intimately bounded to the boreal forest and to the tundra they travel over. A rich territory they call Nitassinan.
With the arrival of the colonizers, the natural resources of the Nitassinan quickly provoked envy, and the Natives presence became a major impediment to their exploitation.

Spoiled, dominated, today the Innu people tries to look up and resist, in the heart of a Canadian nation that doesn't mention their existence in its History books...

This project has been achieved with Emmanuelle GRUNDMANN.

When we lose contact with nature, we have trouble respecting it. I do pity them, the ones who live in the cities. It's hard to see the stars over there.

Lauréat MOREAU

When the eldests leave, our memory disappears.

Manishan KAPESH

The eldest's culture is still very important. Today, the youngsters want to make it their own but the life in the woods, and everything we lived there, our roots, is barely lost because there are few eldests left who have these memories of the life in the forest.

Paul-Arthur McKENZIE

In the woods we used to sleep on a bed made of pine. It smell good and it unblocked the bronchial tubes. For the dishes we used moss, which is lush in the undergrowth, as for the red spruce, it offered us both a excellent heating wood and an ointment for scrapes and wounds.


For me, spirituality, it's this. What's around us. People, animals, trees.

Year after year, as soon as lakes and rivers began their thaw, the Innus left the woods to return near the coasts. First to fish capelins that beached to lay their eggs. Then, after the firsts colonizers' arrival, to barter the skins of beavers, caribous or martens for various vital products for the harsh winter to come.
This traditional cycle was broken in the 50's, when industry and capitalism established on the North coast. Cities rose up where the Innus used to set up their summer camp. Weirs harnessed the rivers that could no longer be sailed up in canoe during the traditional porterages.
Mines were dug, transforming these ancestral territories into wagons of iron and bauxite bounded for the capital city or abroad. Reservations were built to coop up the Innus who became undesirable and to seize their territory, their forest, their story, their soul. Here and there history repeted in the whole North American continent.

Before the colonizers' arrival, Native Americans were 18 millions. When the 20th century began, only 300.000. Today, 1 million.
Decimated by diseases, alcohol, distress.

The government has a very short memory. To protect us, to protect our environment... the treaties. They forgot everything.

Manishan KAPESH / Creator of traditional healing centre for Native Americans who suffer from aggressions or addictions

Our Berlin wall. There will be 150 meters of woods between the white people's houses and the extension of th Uashat reservation. White people don't want their houses brush by the Innus'. It might downgrade their real estate and above all they don't want to mix with us.


There are enough weirs to provide the entire Canada. But they always want more to export. They're destroying our territories, the environment, the animals. They don't care about future.

Suzanne and Véronique REGIS / Founders of Innuvelle, a monthly newspaper of native news, distributed in all the French-speaking reservations of Canada
For White people's majority, Quebec's history begins with the arrival of the first colonizers.

Before? Nothingness. A terra nullius. Empty. Uninhabited. Without any duty to do to monopolize it.

What the government submits to the Natives makes no sens. Like in a transplant, there are sometimes organs' rejections. This is what we are, a rejection. Nobody realize that, even my people. My people is depressed. There's no happiness anymore.

Manishan KAPESH

The wrench began when the White people imposed school. Then boarding schools. Reservations. We were threatened if we didn't go to school, children were taken by force. There was also the illusion of an easier life...

Lauréat MOREAU

We were forced to go to boarding schools so that our parents don't go anymore in the territories, and in order to exploit this land's wealth.

Manishan KAPESH

Kue Attinukan. 106,9FM in Matimekosh. This community radio belongs to us. It's a link between us all. During the hunting season we gonna do a message if caribous aren't far away. And the money we collect with bingo will be used in solidarity with the families who suffer a loss, for example.


In the past, life was tough in the wood. But still we returned hunting during the winter. Today, with the creation of the reservation, we stand around. We're given money to live. And this charity deaden people's mind. They loose their self-esteem, they don't have the strength to survive.


I was on the edge and I was already thinking about suicide. Even my daughter was scared about me. There was this emptiness inside of me. I went to the healing centre in Malio and damn! it helped me a lot and it still helps me. Everything bad I kept inside of me during 32 years finally came out.

Arthémise FONTAINE

Young people don't know who they are. They've lost their pride, their dignity.


On Sept-îles' peninsula a real communion existed between White and Innu peoples. It was harmony. We helped each other. It's the company that brought the parting. It shattered everything. Like the segregation period in the US, in the restaurants here for example, there were seats for Natives only.

Paul-Arthur McKENZIE

NO, NO, NO... no to uranium!
YES, YES, YES, yes to life!

White and Innu peoples demonstrate together against an uranium prospecting project.

We shed tears over our culture. It's like a desert. There's nothing left. You walk in the emptiness. It's like you don't possess anything left in your soul.
We just stand up.

Manishan KAPESH

Nowadays it's very political, this cultural resurgence. To pass our culture, our knowledge on, it's an act of resistance. We defend ourselves. We defend our cultural interests. If we didn't have that resistance, we would have become assimilated.


I hope one day I'll take you by the hand,
To show you where I am from.
I do hope.

Florent VOLLANT (Nipa Minuaten, Katak, 2006)