Sunday, April 20, 2014

Stories from the Spring walk

I'm very proud, I made it again.  I'm so proud and happy.  There was a lot of people when we left Sheshashiu but some people turned back home and I think ten of us finished the walk. Three women walked with us from Quebec.   

Some things shocked me.  First, my age—I thought there was going to be a lot of change but nothing much changed, it was almost the same.   I think God or Francis gave me nice weather since we started walking.  Only two days were very, very cold—just two days and then we walked again. My grandchildren finished the walk, Mathiu, Mandeschwu and Roberta.    I took Mishway but he turned back at the big marsh—someone came and said his mom wanted him home, and so he went home.   I’m very happy my grandchildren and the other children walked with me—very , very happy when they walked with me—the young children.   I said "l am a teacher woman.  In nutshimit, I teach the children about our culture and how not to get lost.   I feel like I'm a teacher."   Teachers in Sheshatshiu stay inside where it’s nice and warm to teach the children.   But even if there’s a very cold wind and I’m tired, very tired, I stay and teach the children.  I'm proud of what I'm doing, I hope the children continue and not lose what I'm doing.  I hope they’re going to do it for the young children or my grandchildren.  

I started with the walk on February 18 and finished on March 7.   I was supposed to be finished on March 18, but it went fast.   Then on Sunday morning, we see something!   Angela and Kanani say, “Come on.”   We see a rainbow early in the morning.   It's beautiful—both sides arc a rainbow.  Everybody couldn't believe it!   It was just like Francis showing us how happy he was we made the walk—all my children, my grandchildren, all the other people.  It's just like God or Francis was showing us something beautiful.  It's like he says, “I’m so proud, so happy.”   We stayed there at Pant’s Lake one day.  The next day, on March 10, we came home to Sheshatshiu and I’m very happy the people all helped.  Two boys, as well as Jack, my son, all worked hard.  They put up the tent for me, got some wood and some water, and took the stuff back to get some more stuff.   I'm so happy my son never said, “Mom hurry up.”  He never rushed me.  I’m so happy.  

I was so busy I forgot to call two of my friends, Robin and Jennifer, to tell them somebody organized a big supper.   The judge came and took a lot of pictures.   A lot of people spoke, including Jack, Peter, Utshimau, and the Band Council.  They say how important it is that I’m teaching the children.  Afterwards there was an lnnu dance and a rock-and-roll dance too. Thank you.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Spring Walk 2014 Reflection

Elizabeth and Her family returned from the Spring walk on Sunday, March 9, which was very meaningful and emotional.  Below is a journal entry from Elizabeth's daughter-in-law, Rena.   In the photo (from a previous walk) Elizabeth is cleaning a porcupine.

Day seven:
As we awake on our last day of the journey, we will leave  Nukum Elizabeth Penashue and the 17 other walkers to finish the climb of the beautiful Meally Mountains to end the three week adventure in Pants lake.  This is a not only a physically enduring walk.  it is one's own spiritual self empowerment journey.  Each walker will learn new and uplifting experiences that will be ingrained in their own memory.  What they do with that, will be up to them.  Should they chose to share, should they chose to keep those memories to themselves that would be up to each individual.  Today, it's through my gift of visualizing and being able to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard I will share my day seven.

On this day we have walked seven days some very short some very long, some on snowshoe and some in just our mocassins.  We have shared food, shared sleeping quarters and stories.  Today, we are beginning the first day of the climb of the mountain.  Before we begin, we take pictures with my motherinlaw, known in the area of Labrador as "Tshakuesh" Penashue.      This is a bittersweet  moment one that I thought I would never have to see.  I explain to her the evening before that because of my education commitments my children and I will not be able to complete this journey with her.  She nods, and says she is very grateful for us to be there for that long and is so thankful that her third eldest son, my husband Jack is able to continue with her.  She thanks me for that.  I too return the thanks for letting us accompany her.  I tell her "nukum, when I leave tomorrow, try not to be too sad, ok?"  She agrees.

After the picture taking, she leads the way into the path which is at the bottom of the mountain.  My family has done this before, we know what is in store for us.  We know that the climb is going to become steep and more physically challenging.  As we walk into the woods, I silently pray to my late Fatherinlaw, known as Francis.  I asked that he watch over the walkers and now show us that we are doing the right thing.  Growing up, I have always been taught pray, give thanks for everything and everyone. Love one another, be kind, be gentle.  This is what I continue to pray for.  I thank the Creator for everything that he has given us and in return for good health, good luck for everyone on this journey.

Today, is an emotional day.  I ask for strength for Tshakuesh.  This is her first and last walk to her late husbands traditional hunting and gathering area without him.  There has been a few times that I felt my Fatherinlaw but today his spiritual presence is so overwhelming it brings tears to my eyes.  The weather has been beautiful thus far but today it feels like spring.  The glistening of the snow on the trees, the signs of partridge.  We continue to walk, there is some walkers that go on ahead and there is some that are behind.  Tshankuesh along with myself and six of her grandchildren are together.  She is telling us stories and we are remembering along the way of old camps from previous walks.  She speaks softly and quietly.  The kids are listening attentively and smiling as their nukum speaks.  We continue to walk along and we come across a big rock along the path.  She tells the kids slow down and wait there.  They listen, her and I catch up to them.  She tells them to wipe the snow off the rock, than she tells them.  This is Mushum, the grandfather everytime I walked with Mushum we would stop.  I would stop and pray to the rock for strength, than kiss and thank the grandfather for his strength.  She than sheds some tears and tells the kids when you kids get older you will understand why you give thanks to Mushum.  It's hard to understand right now but you will know why I do this.  She prays in Innu Aimun, kisses the rock and tell the kids to do the same.  What are the chances of us being alone at that particular time, very slim, but there we stood sharing a private emotional moment.

We hear a skidoo in the distance, coming down the mountain.  There is panic that rushes over me.  For one spilt second I fear that perhaps we were not meant to be here.  We weren't given no animals, I have come to know that being given animals is a gift and powerful in the Innu traditions.  I know that on the skidoo is my husband coming to pick us up to return to the community life.  Nukum also knows that we will be departing shortly.  My husband approaches and tells us in Innu that they have a porcupine.  My heart is overwhelmed with joy and happiness because this is affirmation that we are we where we are supposed to be.  My motherinlaw approaches me.  As we hug we cry and tell each other we love one another.  She asks me to deliver a letter to my mother and asks for prayers.  I tell her Nukum we will all pray for you and everyone else with you.  She again thanks me and tells me she will miss us very much.  We release one another and wipe our tears and smile.  I than proceed to hug and kiss the others that are around.  We depart, I sit on the back of the skidoo and shed some tears.  I am so sad to leave Nutshimit, the bush, the country.  I know I will return for this has been put in my path for a reason and I have to receive these teachings.  Again, I am humbled and overwhelmed with emotions to be given such an opportunity to experience the life of those that have gone before me.  As we ride back to the community with the sun setting behind us.  I know in my heart we will see another sunrise and sunset in nutshimit till next time.  Thank you Nimushum, we love you!


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Spring Walk begins

We started walking yesterday.  It was a good day.  The sun was shining and the weather was very good. A lot of people came.  Some school children came to watch us leave.  Many of my grandchildren are walking with me and I have good help.   I know it will be hard though because Francis isn't here and I will think of him with every step and at every campsite.   Please pray for me. 

Thank you to all of you who wrote notes of support.  I'm sorry I've been so busy that I haven't been able to write to you.   I'll be in touch when I get back.


Thursday, January 02, 2014

Spring Walk 2014!

My son, Jack, is going to help me do the walk in nutshimit one more time this spring, even though I don't have Francis to help me anymore.   Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers!

A few memories of Francis

Goodbye Francis

October 9th 2013

It's a beautiful morning. I want to tell you what I'm feeling and thinking since my husband left. I am finding it very hard and there are times when it's really really lonely. There are times when I cannot sleep.  I wake up in the middle of the night and I think of him. Before my husband passed away, if I woke up in the middle of the night I would just put my arms around him. Sometimes I would be shocked at how small he became when I had my arms around him. I would wonder how he was going to do because he was getting so small. There were times when I didn't wake him up when he was sick and when I had my arms around him. I didn't tell him that I was worried but I felt so bad for him.

So today I do not want to sleep alone. When I sleep alone I feel like hugging and wrapping my arms around my grandchildren because I care so much about them.

I never really knew how hard this was going to be. It's really difficult when a husband leaves his wife after they have been together for so many years. I told my children this is all too sudden. Your dad left so soon and we all didn't expect this at all. I often think about the wonderful things we did together and how happy he made me. Before he became sick we use to get up in the morning and have breakfast together. On beautiful mornings we'd talk about what our plans would be for the day. We had our arguments and disagreements but we always made our plans together. Sometimes he'd say he wanted to do this and I'd do my own thing.
We were always happy when our grandchildren wanted to come to the country with us, as well, as Sheshatshiu. They often made us laugh when we were all together.
 This is such a hard time for me. I really miss my husband. Since he became sober in 1992, he was a different man. He did things for me and treated me well. He loved all his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He treated them well. He wasn't the same man when he gave up drinking. He was a good man, husband and father. 
This is my story.
Elizabeth Penashue

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Meshkanu Film

Please enjoy the new film made about the Spring Walk in 2009 by filmmaker Andrew Mudge.  It is 20 minutes and available here: Meshkanu