This early work from Pierre Perrault, made in collaboration with René Bonnière, chronicles summer activities in the Innu communities of Unamenshipu (La Romaine) and Pakuashipi. Shot by noted cinematographer Michel Thomas-d’Hoste, it documents the construction of a traditional canoe, fishing along the Coucouchou River, a procession marking the Christian feast of the Assumption, and the departure of children for residential schools—an event presented here in an uncritical light. Perrault’s narration, delivered by an anonymous male voice, underscores the film’s outsider gaze on its Indigenous subjects. The film is from Au Pays de Neufve-France (1960), a series produced by Crawley Films, an important early Canadian producer of documentary films.
Viewer Advisory (2018)
Alexis Joveneau, a Catholic priest with the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, worked in the Innu community of Unamenshipu (La Romaine) between 1960 and 1985, and appears in five NFB productions: Attiuk (1960), Ka Ke Ki Ku (1960), Le goût de la farine (1977), Le pays de la terre sans arbre ou le Mouchouânipi (1980) and La grande allure II (1985). Joveneau is seen in several scenes of Ka Ke Ki Ku, teaching Innu children and providing Innu-aimun/French translation.
In November 2017, during Canada’s National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, a number of Innu women from Unamenshipu testified that they had been sexually and physically abused by Joveneau, who died in 1992. Many other women subsequently came forward with similar allegations, and on March 29, 2018, a request for a class action was filed in Quebec Superior Court on behalf of the women against the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.