Pien Penashue

The son of Pinashue Pasteen and Aniss Pone, Pien was born in 1926 at Iku-shipiss in the Akamiuapishku (Mealy Mountains) area, and married Nishet Pokue, the daughter of Uatshitshish, one of the last shamans from the Sheshatshiu area of Labrador. Together they had twelve children. Pien was very close to his late brother, Matiu Penashue, and they spent many years together on the land. Both of them were apprentices to Uatshitishish, and learned a great deal from him about communication with the world of animal masters.

Historian, theologian, master craftsman, map reader, and hunter, Pien has long been recognized as one of the great story tellers and experts among his people. His knowledge has caught the attention of non-Innu as well, and he has appeared in several films including "Hunters and Bombers" (NFB), "The Two Worlds of the Innu" (BBC), and "Pien upuamun" ("Pien's Dream") (CBC), which is about his last canoe and his efforts to instruct younger generations in the old ways. One of his canoes resides at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, while another is on display at The Rooms museum in St. John's.

"I have been making canoes for 43 years. I made my last one in the summer of 2002. I also know how to make paddles, snowshoes, toboggans, stoves, axe handles, caribou scrapers and the traditional Innu drum. The Innu people would not have been able to travel into the interior of their territory were it not for canoes, snowshoes and toboggans."

"Respect for the animals is very important in our culture. When a caribou is killed, the antlers should be well taken care of. They should not be thrown anywhere like garbage. This was mentioned by the shaman when he talked to the animal masters; that we should respect the animals we depend on for our livelihood. Always respect the bones of the animals that you kill."

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