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Portage routes and reconciliation with Laura Fontaine

What heritage can we find and pass on after centuries of attempted destruction? How to find your way, Nimeshkanaminan, along the territory nourished by a people, who have nourished it in return for millennia?

More than an expedition on the Nitassinan

In the short film Nimeshkanaminan, our board member and representative of the Innu Mani-utenam indigenous nation Laura Fontaine and her cousin Yasmine Fontaine share their journey of rediscovery of the canoe portage paths that crisscross the rivers of their region, including the Moisie River. A form of reconciliation.

On this National Day of Truth and Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, let us remember who have always been the guardians of the rivers.

Here is his testimony:

It is with great gratitude that I return home, after spending the last three weeks on Nitassinan. 

Thank you to my team who ensured that my first porting was a great experience that will mark me forever. A special thank you to Yasmine, a big sister with whom I shared my laughter and my tears.

This was my first portage and the first time I walked and canoed inland over a long stretch of territory. We were able to contemplate the territory in its naturalness, far from the railway and even the helicopters passed very rarely and far from us. The closer we got to Sept-Îles, the more the railway brushed against the portage routes and the more we saw the electrical pylons and the deforestation they caused. The last part (from the Nipissis outfitter to Sept-Îles) was done by helicopter where we could see it from above. It was a return to reality that shocked me, but also reminded me of the importance of occupying and protecting Tshitassinan. 

I am aware that the access to the territory that we were able to have and the experience of a portage are not possible for everyone, but it is something that I wish all Innu to see their eyes the immensity of Nitassinan, to see what our ancestors left us. Whether on the portage paths or on the river, we feel their presence, they are there walking alongside us and that is what gives us the strength to continue...

To learn more about Laura and Yasmine’s expedition on the Moisie River

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