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Vol 38  No 5
November 3, 2005


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Address to convocation

Dr. Elizabeth Penashue
(Translated by Jack Penashue.)

I donít know how to say English. (Translator:) I am very thankful that I am receiving this honour. I am an Innu woman from Labrador. What we call a descendant. I am very honored to be here and to be part of this session and convocation. I thank everybody for coming.

I am very happy to be here. Iíve brought my two sons with me. And also I brought two daughters and my husband Francis. I am very thankful. At the same time, also, I am very grateful that I am being given honours. At the same time I am a voice of people. I am also a voice of the animals. I am also a voice for the environment. I am a voice of the people that cannot speak for themselves. I have a lot of relatives who are not able to present themselves. At the same time also, I am an activist and Iím also a very strong supporter of human integrity and solidarity for the Innu people.

I have to also speak for the people also who cannot speak for themselves. I speak for all of you. I fight for the injustice of what is happening to the environment, what is happening to the animals . For the people who arenít able to speak up, I also fight for you. I am also fighting for the social injustice of what is happening within the communities of all people, not just in Labrador but also in Canada and also in the world.

Without the environment , without us as a people taking care of the environment , looking after the waters, looking after the animals and the lands, we would no longer be here. We would suffer the pollution and the contamination of what is happening within our environment.

I am also a very strong voice of the people who cannot speak for themselves. Everybody in this world wants to survive and also live a healthy life just as we as Innu people want to. Everybody wants to live healthy and also live on their own and also by governing themselves. When I received this document of honorary degree, I also would like to acknowledge that (when I received it) not only did I receive it personally but the environment received a degree. Thatís how I look at it in more of a personal view. I donít personally take this as myself but as honouring the environment and the animals.

The reason that I fight for the rights and the protection of the environment is the protection also for the future generations of our children. That is why I do the things I do.

You are probably aware that the Innu people are in crisis in our communities. And, you are probably also aware of the suicides and the issues within our communities. The reasons why we do these things is because we want to live the way we were always taught to live amongst the land, among the environment and the animals. That is how we were raised to live. And, if we start abusing the environment, then you start abusing the people that live on that land.

I donít have enough time to speak about all the issues and all the gratitude I have within my speech. I also want to mention that my walk and my journey is for the people, is for the youth, is for the children, the grandchildren, the great-grandchildren. That is what I do to protect the life of my culture and also of my people. Thank you very much.

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