The other day we had a good meeting. Over 20 old people met with the people working in Innu Nation to talk about the river. It lasted all day. It was mostly Innu in the morning and then in afternoon 5 white people came. I talked and many other people did too. In the afternoon they brought papers to show us what will happen at Gull Island and Muskrat Falls. I didn't like everything they said, but I was glad to have the chance to talk. The white people only talked about certain things… the good things. They didn't talk about bad stuff, such as the mercury, the animals dying, the big machines and the big mess. The people weren't very happy about that. It's very important to talk about all of it. I asked the people at Innu Nation if we could meet again. I said to the people, “Maybe the government thinks everyone agrees with the dam, but that is not true. Most old people are very concerned. Thousands of years the people have hunted along the river.” One woman yesterday said she was born there.
Sometimes when I'm at home I write in Innu and I wish I could draw the mountains and the river. If the government makes another dam I think my tears will be as much as the river. This is what I think about when it's quiet in my house. When I talk about it now with my friend I want to cry. Sometimes it's hard to know what's going to happen. Sometimes I am very angry when I'm writing. What have I been doing for the last 13 years—walking and canoeing? I wasn't just doing those things for fun. It's hard work with very little money. I never think about people paying me or getting rich. I just need enough for people to eat and for gas and supplies for the trips. I wish the government would see what I'm doing. I want to help my people, help the children, and protect the animals. I think, "What did I do wrong?" I wish the government would respect the women and children.
Every time when I do the walks and trips, I'm doing it because I want to help. This fall when I walked on the road from Happy Valley to Gull Island, we walked all day and sometimes we were very tired. We would rest and then it was so hard to get up again. My grandchildren would help me. It's hard to stand up sometimes; I keep going though. Sometimes when I walked on the road the people stopped and said “hi” and that they were happy about what I was doing. This always gave me energy to keep on walking.
I've started exercising every morning in Sheshatshiu. I walk along the beach. There's not much snow. I put my stick in the water and I talk with the water and tell it that I want to help it so it won't die. I pray as I walk. The land and water, my people and young children, animals and trees, grass and flowers--everything that grows, all the medicine--they are all so important to me. I don't know how long I will be able to do this, but I will keep trying.
When I walked this fall along the Churchill Road, sometimes my friends, men and women came out to bring us tea and food. Sometimes the children would ask me, “Who are these nice people?” We were all so happy to see them. One day the weather was very bad, rain and snow, but we decided to walk anyway. Nobody said, “Let’s just stay in the tent.” We decided to leave the tent and walk. The children didn’t complain that they were wet or wanting to go back. I thought, “The children are very strong.” All of us walking were strong, walking in the rain. Sometimes I told the people they could go ahead and I walked behind praying. It was quiet and I would listen to the birds. I called ahead to my son and told him we should stop and make a fire since everyone was wet. My son and another man went to look for a good place with dry wood to make a fire. Everyone was cold and stood around the fire warming their hands. I didn’t know where we should get water. In a minute someone stopped on the road and it was my friend. There was tea, water, soup, sandwiches, and bread. Everyone was so happy and warm. After we ate I kept walking with the children and my friend went back to see Francis in the tent. Later Francis came and picked us up so we could dry off at the tent. It was a good day.
When we left Happy Valley it was like summer, but the last day when we left for Gull Island there was a lot of snow. Some people hadn’t brought boots. We waited until the afternoon to walk the last day. I said, “It was summer when we started walking and now we met winter.” Everyone was happy and proud to have made it.