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Gatherings

Gatherings and Weddings

8:08 min. - Wedding were the principal reason for Innu gatherings. The arrival of residential schools and houses brought an end to these gatherings.

Transcription

Basile Bellefleur - Long before the existence of planes and boats, there were great Innu gatherings. I remember the one that brought together the Ekuanitshit, the Natashquan, the Pakut-shipu and the Unaman-shipu communities, an event that took place once a year. It was held at Mashkuanu, the only Eastern Innu summer gathering place. The Innu came here to the mission mostly to marry or to attend weddings. People stopped meeting when the residential schools arrived and houses were built. Nevertheless, most of the elders enjoyed these gatherings and participated each year. They came to the mission mostly to marry or to attend weddings. It's a good thing that the gatherings continue at least once a year.
There was also another winter gathering that took place at Tshishe-shastshit. It was right after the February cold spells. Many people attended from Utshimassit, Uashat and even Pessamit. It was the most spontaneous gathering and an opportunity to shop before the spring thaw. The Innu told each other stories about their nomadic life over the past year. The elders remember and enjoy these gatherings. They approve of these reunions. And if they didn't enjoy them, they wouldn't go to these gatherings.
Maniesh - My name is Maniesh, and I'm from Natashquan. I've often come to Mashkuanu. My grandmother brought us. I must have been 7 when my grandmother started taking care of us. I don't remember my mother. She died when I was 1 or 2 years old. My first marriage was with a widower. One or two years later, he said to me, "We'll travel to Mashkuanu, where we played when we were young and I spanked you with an oar". In the years that followed, I've always come back to La Romaine and Mashkuanu. I still enjoy it and if I didn't, I certainly wouldn't come back. I saw many of my friends marry. I think the last one to get married here was Penashuess. People from Unaman-shipu didn't cry when they got married. On the other hand, the ones from Natashquan and those who married women from Ekuanitshit cried. I don't really know why. I like telling those stories.
Narrator - Now that modernity has caught up to the communities and the news comes through radio, television and the Internet, these kind of gatherings based on marriage no longer take place. Instead, we organize a meeting where we pay tribute to the elders and their traditional way of life. These community gatherings called "mamu-aitun" began in Schefferville more than 10 years ago, and take place in a different Innu community each year.
Desneige - Since the annual gatherings started up again, I've noticed that people are beginning to appreciate Innu culture once more. They do as they once did in the past, since these events are a good way to transmit values. I rejoice in the fraternity we can experience here, which we don't find in the communities. Here we can visit, talk to each other, confide in just about everyone. Everyone appreciates the others. In the village, you just stay home.
Andrew Pocker - I didn't go to get her, but I went to request her parents' consent. I asked her uncle to go and ask for her hand in marriage. I think I had to ask her twice before she made up her mind. The father and mother consented, but no one had talked to Madeleine. She didn't know that her hand had been given in marriage, that's why she was afraid of me, she stayed away, didn't want to approach me. Did her heart perhaps belong to another man?
Madeleine - Not at all! I was simply frightened. I was shy about marrying him. He was handsome, but I can't begin to tell you how badly he dressed.
Andrew Pocker - As soon as consent was given, we agreed to marry in Church. We were two couples. Since the priest wasn't available, we asked an older priest who happened to be visiting, to do it, and he agreed. So it was the bishop who married us the following Saturday, August 12.
Music - Rodrigue Fontaine, Bill St-Onge, Luc Bacon


2 Comments

Christine Dufour 11 years, 3 months ago

Depuis une heure je navigue sur ce site, et je suis très émue. Là c'était trop, avec ces histoires de mariage. Mais bravo pour les films sur les rassemblements. Je voudrais tant qu'ils reviennent pour voir ça. Merci!

Maureen Bright 11 years, 3 months ago

At the end when the couple are talking about getting married by the priest, what was it like before there were priests? What were the Innu true holy people like?


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