‘It was really positive’: Sheshatshiu council donates new tent to Innu elder – Newfoundland & Labrador

A well-known Innu elder in Labrador who was shocked to find her traditional tent destroyed in a fire will be getting a replacement.

‘She was very happy to see the amount of support she received.’
– Kanani Davis, Elizabeth Penashue’s daughter

Word of the destruction of Elizabeth Penashue’s tent spread through Sheshatshiu, prompting a wave of support, and the band council moving to get her a new tent.

Penashue says the phone calls, emails and positive comments on social media have been overwhelming, and helped brighten her spirit during the difficult time.

“She was very happy to see the amount of support she received because she was really down,” said Kanani Davis, Penashue’s daughter, translating for her mother.

“She was really hurt and sad. Disappointed.”

In the aftermath of the fire, which occurred in the early morning hours on July 19, the community has provided far more than just kind words.

Dozens gather for an outdoor mass service north of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, organized by Innu elder Elizabeth Penashue. (Kanani Davis/Submitted)

A family member stepped up to donate a temporary tent so Penashue could host her annual St. Anne’s mass service on July 26 — a religious gathering the elder has been organizing for nearly a decade.

‘Her sentimental values were in that tent.’
– Kanani Davis

The annual service normally takes place on a hilltop near Sheshatshiu, but this year Penashue decided to hold the event near the site of the fire, as a tribute to the memories once housed in her old tent. 

“She believes that God is everywhere. That’s why she finds it comforting to have it outside and in a tent setting,” said Davis.

“She feels people have their own sentimental values … Her sentimental values were in that tent.”

‘It was really positive’

About three dozen people attended the outdoor service, which included a traditional mass and baptisms for two local children. Davis noted this year’s congregation contained some new faces, as well.

“Even people from Goose Bay came down for the service, which is a first,” she said. “I thought it was really positive and nice to see people from outside come to the service.”

Elizabeth Penashue often used her tent to make traditional Innu donuts during the summer months. (Kanani Davis/Submitted)

And within days of the service, Davis said her mother received more good news from the Sheshatshiu band council.

“She received a call from the band chief, Eugene Hart,…

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