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Importance of river must be recognized

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I want to talk about how I feel about Mista Shipu.

I want more people outside of Labrador to know about my concerns. I feel like this river is alive, like a person, like us. Mista Shipu helps Innu with travel and transportation, food and hunting. Children were born on this river. Innu people depended on the river.
One time Daniel Ashini hurt his hand when he was a little boy; the family was far away in the country, far from the hospital. They walked through woods a long time and out to the river and were so happy when they got to the river so they could travel faster to Goose Bay to get him to the hospital.
Innu had shaking tents on the river; children and adults were so happy when men brought food home from hunting, and they brought it by travelling on the river.
For thousands of years, our people hunted and travelled on that river. The river is part of our family. It is so important. I don’t think the government and a lot of other people understand how important that river is to us. Older people, like me, are most concerned because it’s been our friend for so long and part of our lives. I’m very worried. A lot of people have passed away and it’s my job now to tell how important the river is. There aren’t many people left who remember how we used the river and what it meant to us. Some people my age are too sick to walk but they know it is important; they want me to tell their story too. Two weeks ago I walked on the Churchill Road to Muskrat. I cried when I walked, thinking about old times. There are only a few people older than me left but they can’t speak out anymore because they’re not well. Someone has to speak out.
I’m concerned what is going to happen to children in the future. They are going to be more into alcohol, drugs, and suicide, as more outside influences affect our people and we lose our old ways. Sometimes when I’m in my house and it’s quiet, I’m writing Innu and I wish I could get the message to government about how me and people my age feel about Mista Shipu. It hurts me to see all the damage that is being done to the river. I cry for it like any mother cries when her children are hurt. Mother Earth cries about the damage too.
When I travel the river and see the places along the banks where animals and birds have their homes, where their babies are born, I wonder where they will go to have their babies when the river is flooded and destroyed. The berries that grow by the river, the trees, the medicine all will be underwater and drowned. It hurts me to think about this. When I travel the river, I see places where my family camped, where people told me their baby was born, or where they hunted animals, every place on the river has a story to tell. It’s our history and it is being wiped out.
Nobody talks about what happened to the burial grounds when the upper Churchill project went ahead, or the mercury that went into the water when the trees and land were flooded. The same thing will happen now; it’s just getting worse and poisoning us and the environment.
I want to talk about these things before I am gone. I don’t know how long before I’m gone so I have to say it now while I’m still here. It’s important that people hear these things. For almost 20 years I’ve been talking about this, trying to make a good meshkanu (path) for the children. This is too important to keep quiet about.
Elizabeth Penashue

I want more people outside of Labrador to know about my concerns. I feel like this river is alive, like a person, like us. Mista Shipu helps Innu with travel and transportation, food and hunting. Children were born on this river. Innu people depended on the river.
One time Daniel Ashini hurt his hand when he was a little boy; the family was far away in the country, far from the hospital. They walked through woods a long time and out to the river and were so happy when they got to the river so they could travel faster to Goose Bay to get him to the hospital.
Innu had shaking tents on the river; children and adults were so happy when men brought food home from hunting, and they brought it by travelling on the river.
For thousands of years, our people hunted and travelled on that river. The river is part of our family. It is so important. I don’t think the government and a lot of other people understand how important that river is to us. Older people, like me, are most concerned because it’s been our friend for so long and part of our lives. I’m very worried. A lot of people have passed away and it’s my job now to tell how important the river is. There aren’t many people left who remember how we used the river and what it meant to us. Some people my age are too sick to walk but they know it is important; they want me to tell their story too. Two weeks ago I walked on the Churchill Road to Muskrat. I cried when I walked, thinking about old times. There are only a few people older than me left but they can’t speak out anymore because they’re not well. Someone has to speak out.
I’m concerned what is going to happen to children in the future. They are going to be more into alcohol, drugs, and suicide, as more outside influences affect our people and we lose our old ways. Sometimes when I’m in my house and it’s quiet, I’m writing Innu and I wish I could get the message to government about how me and people my age feel about Mista Shipu. It hurts me to see all the damage that is being done to the river. I cry for it like any mother cries when her children are hurt. Mother Earth cries about the damage too.
When I travel the river and see the places along the banks where animals and birds have their homes, where their babies are born, I wonder where they will go to have their babies when the river is flooded and destroyed. The berries that grow by the river, the trees, the medicine all will be underwater and drowned. It hurts me to think about this. When I travel the river, I see places where my family camped, where people told me their baby was born, or where they hunted animals, every place on the river has a story to tell. It’s our history and it is being wiped out.
Nobody talks about what happened to the burial grounds when the upper Churchill project went ahead, or the mercury that went into the water when the trees and land were flooded. The same thing will happen now; it’s just getting worse and poisoning us and the environment.
I want to talk about these things before I am gone. I don’t know how long before I’m gone so I have to say it now while I’m still here. It’s important that people hear these things. For almost 20 years I’ve been talking about this, trying to make a good meshkanu (path) for the children. This is too important to keep quiet about.
Elizabeth Penashue

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