Innu Perspective


7:55 min. - Many visitors passed through the port of Brest on the Basse-Côte-Nord.


Narrator - Our story begins in North America, warming up after a long ice period, some 7 thousand years ago, Coming from the south, the Innus settle all over what it now called the North Shore in Québec, and in Minganie. For 7 thousand years, they live there in harmony, happy to be the keepers of such beautiful land. The first visitors are Inuits, coming from the Great North, where it’s getting too cold, and they come for the whales and the seals. First, on the shores of Labrador and then further south, up to Tadoussac. But the Inuit visitors will stay but a few hundred years. The sharing of ways and customs does not go very well between Innus and Inuits and there is even a famous war at l’Ile aux Esquimaux on the North Shore, in 1640. European visitors are coming more and more often. The Vikings around year one thousand, Paul Knuttson form Norway in 1360, from Scotland, Henry Sinclair in 1398. And fishermen, whalers and "codders" who are Portuguese, Basque, French, or Spanish sail through the Belle-Isle straight around 1420 and have commerce with the Beothuks. Then, it’s the explorers’ turn. Coming from France, Spain, Portugal, England and Holland. They are looking for the passage to Asia, to all its treasures. And the passage should not be too far! And the country controlling the passage should become immensely rich. The Italian sailor Giovanni Cabotto became John Cabot in declaring, in the name of the king, that this land belonged to the British. And another Italian, Verazzano, declared in his name that Newfoundland and Labrador was now a property of the King of France. In the name of so and so and that other, possession is announced! These visitors are indeed very strange. They have this mania, taking possession of every bit of land they happen to see. But keep in mind that across the ocean, in Europe, things are not that wonderful and the newcomers are mostly people unhappy with the plague, and the robbers, and intolerance and war. Permanent settlements begin as soon as the sixteenth century. First in Newfoundland and closer to us in Minganie. Brest was a 200 hundred houses village with a population that varied from a thousand to 3 thousand people; for a moment it is the most important commercial center north of Mexico. It’s people are Bretons, Basques, Normans, English, Portuguese, Innus, Micmacs and Beothuks. After "cross-breeding" which is certain, no European women coming with the men, all manners of exchange are done between the visitors and the Innus, local products for metal implements. So, it is not surprising that Jacques Cartier met in Natashquan a Frenchman by the name of Thiennôt, who had been living for a long while with the Innus. It became ordinary for the Innus to see, when summer came, the boats coming from so far away. And they knew that those dirty and sick people but wearing beautiful clothes, would trade food and furs and healing things for axes and knives, and cloth, all sorts of new marvels.
Fiction - What is Jacques Cartier looking for? The Indies…
Agathe Pietacho - Look over there white visitors.
Philippe Pietacho -Women go and hide hurry!
Jacques Cartier - We look foolish, don’t we? Gee with! In times of protocol, we behave amateurishly.
Be careful Gontran!
In the name of Francis I, king of France and, of the Holy church, we take possession of these lands.
Ushtikuanashik and Utshepetui - Magnificently half-caste friends - Look, two White men just fell into water.
He looks funny! Beware of him.
He doesn't look very bright.
Evelyne St-Onge - They were greeted by our people, accepted, nursed... However, we soon realized they were here to take possession of our wealth.
Agathe Pietacho - Who are they?
Philippe Pietacho - I don't know these people.
Evelyne St-Onge - Innus were nomads. There were no borders: mountains and lakes were their landmarks. Innus had to move about to survive. Innu travelled everywhere...
We needed hare, caribou, and fish…We would abide by the animal cycles, which we still do. In springtime, Innu came back to the sea for ducks hunting.
Narrator - A great many men are coming and no women, it does create an imbalance, it’s no surprise that there is a great problem of women stealing between the Innus, the Inuits and the Micmacs.
Philippe Pietacho - I heard this story at Havre-Saint-Pierre, I was young. It was at time when Micmacs and Inuits would come and steal Innu women. One night, Innu found the women's thieves; killed them; sliced their penis which they pasted on a rock.
Music - Philippe Mckenzie

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