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Grandmother

Evelyne in Montreal

4:52 min. - Shortly after the residential school period, Evelyne goes to study in Montreal.

Transcription

Evelyne St-Onge - My sister, who lived in Montréal, asked me to come and take care of her son, and I went. I went to work for her as a nanny. Anyhow, she said, "Why don't you apply here?" And... we ended up going to the same place she studied. Because she is also a nurse's aide, and it was in Buckingham. I was accepted immediately. Exactly one year without going back to my community in Schefferville. I missed the Innu language without realizing it. I didn't speak. I just listened... to hear Innu spoken. It was like a song. I was going to graduate and I was looking for someone to come to my graduation with me. And my brother introduced me to someone, introduced me to Gilles, I found someone to accompany me to my graduation. And I found myself a husband at the same time. We have two children, Benoît and Michèle. I really liked his adventurous spirit. It wasn't complicated to get up and go... at any time. And I... in my nomad spirit, I was always ready to go and we got as far as California. We travelled around California... we went to Cuba. Indians were very much appreciated and... it was quite exotic to be Native, to be Indian at that time. I found it quite hard to live in Montréal with 2 children, and I was... I started getting stressed out. Finally we decided to move to Schefferville. Schefferville, I found... really really hard, quite difficult at first, because I witnessed many instances of racism. Gilles and I started drifting away from each other, and also at the age... I was 30, I had two children, and one Christmas Eve, one of my friends had invited us to spend Christmas with them, and she was shaking the gifts. And she said: "I hope it's what I asked for". She wanted a chain. My friend had a chain around her neck, on her arm, on her leg. And I thought: "Where is she going to put another chain?" And then I... a question popped into my head, I thought: "Do I want to be chained up like this? Will I live in French, will I live in Innu?" And the... the questions came tumbling out one after the other, and never, never stopped. Who was I? Am I Innu, Québécoise? If I'm Québécoise, I'll have to accept to live as they do. I'll have to accept... I'll have to change my values, and if I'm Innu, I know absolutely nothing about my culture. Gilles and I separated, and I came back to the Innu. The Innu told me: "Things are going badly since you've been back". Because I spent all my time denouncing... all kinds of things, because at that time, when I was there, all Innu children were classified as maladaptive. And classifying them as maladaptive brought many subsidies to the school. I wasn't comfortable with that, why, we must tell them... the Innu need to know what's going on, and they need to be part of decision-making. Not be just, persons so the school gets subsidized, they have to get involved. The hardest thing I found at that time was... to realize that I knew absolutely nothing about my culture. All I knew was how to speak Innu.
Music - Kathia Rock


1 Comment

Pierre Bastien 7 years, 3 months ago

Je viens de revoir Évelyne que je n'avais pas vue depuis 1967, l'année de notre graduation.
Je suis tout ému de l'entendre.
Pierre


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