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From Davis Inlet to Natuashish: A glimmer of hope

"We are a lost people." That description by an Innu chief seemed fitting when a shocking video of six gas-sniffing teens, screaming they wanted to die, was broadcast to the world. The once-nomadic Innu of Labrador have struggled under a haze of isolation, poverty and addiction ever since their 1967 settlement. A second relocation, this time from the shantytown of Davis Inlet to the new community of Natuashish, offered much promise, but it was just the beginning of a long healing process.

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While the Labrador Innu have become synonymous with self destruction, there is hope, as heard in this radio documentary. Three women in Natuashish are attempting to heal their community in different ways. Healing is something Natuashish desperately needs as its residents learn of yet another suicide -- a 21-year-old Innu man who hanged himself. It is the sixth suicide in a community that's barely two years old.

Healing for filmmaker Christine Poker is telling the story of her people. For the president of Next Generation Guardian, an Innu woman's group, healing means bringing the women of Natuashish together and providing support. And for ex-chief Katie Rich, it means looking for political solutions, such as banning drugs, for a better life for her people. 
. Moved by the heartbreaking images of life in Davis Inlet, aid has been pouring into the Innu community. Harmonica player Mike Stevens began performing as well as bringing instruments to the children in Labrador after meeting some of the gas-sniffing Innu children. He spoke about his experience in an emotional interview with the CBC's Mary Lou Finlay.


. Terry Ryan, a former first-round pick of the Montreal Canadiens, became involved with the Seedwater Youth Opportunity Society, a non-profit youth development program aimed at helping the children from Natuashish. Ryan is part of a group helping 20 minor hockey players from Natuashish with skills on and off the ice.

. In April 2001, 1.5 tonnes of donated hockey equipment were delivered to the children of Davis Inlet. Four Peterborough, Ont., residents organized the equipment drive after learning the children were wearing shoes and boots and using sticks and brooms to play hockey.
Medium: Radio
Program: The Current
Broadcast Date: Oct. 25, 2004
Reporter: Dick Miller
Duration: 21:38

Last updated: November 27, 2012

Page consulted on January 19, 2015

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