The combination of capitalism and participation, a challenge to the indigenous

Mrs. LeBlanc is just like this song: alive and fighting. She founded Atikuss, which provides footwear, footwear and other local fashion items. Soon, she’ll open an environmental museum right next door to her shop, located on the Boulevard des Montagnais, in Uashat, the landlocked Innu community of Sept-Îles.

José Shushy LeBlanc is a brilliant businesswoman.

Photo: Radio Canada / Delphine Jung

The community includes many entrepreneurs such as Ms. LeBlanc. Jean Launier, for example, one of the three partners at the helm of Mishkau Construction says that entrepreneurship has always been his passion.

Mr. Launier believes that notions of business and sole proprietorship are very recent among the indigenous population. An opinion shared by Evelyn Saint Ong, an elder from Mani-Otenam, a community located 14 kilometers from Auchat, who teaches Inu history and culture in schools in particular.

Money came with colonialism. It took me a long time to figure out the value of money. We just started putting him aside, as you say.

Evelyn St Ong.

Evelyne St-Onge explains that the concept of “money” is very recent in Aboriginal culture.

Photo: Radio Canada / Delphine Jung

She explained that even today, some Innu people find it difficult to accept money from miners or foresters to make up for the loss of their land. We do not sell our land. We do not sell our security, falling off.

Was Innu economically absorbed? Should they embrace capitalism by denying their participating values? The answer is not conclusive.

Map showing the location of the Innu communities in Uashat, Mani-utenam and the city of Sept-les.

The location of the Innu communities in Uashat, Mani-utenam and the city of Sept-les.

Photo: Radio Canada

The corporate identity of Atikuss, meaning its founder Mrs. Leblanc, is the symbol that the two can be confused. The beads that adorn her shoes are entirely made by Aboriginal women in a precarious position. They charge between $15 and $20 an hour, she adds.

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For Ms. LeBlanc, this is her way of giving back to her community: $150,000 has already been paid to women in need since 2007.

Traditional shoes are on display in the store.

The traditional Atticus shoe decoration is made by women living in a state of precariousness.

Photo: Radio Canada / Delphine Jung

In our culture, you are supposed to give everything back to your family, but that’s not how it worksAnd continue to appreciate that day People are torn between two concepts of the world.

For his part, Jean Lonier fully assumes the capitalist culture on which Mischkau was founded.

I am a product of the new economic cycle and I believe in the capitalist model, He said.

Jean Lonier in front of the workbench.

Jean Launier is one of the three shareholders of Mishkau Construction.

Photo: Radio Canada / Delphine Jung

Ken Rock, Director of Economic Development Corporation at Uashat mak Mani-utenam believes that developing private businesses is a way to improve the quality of life of the people who live in the community.

Giving back to the community

There is a form of redistribution: companies are sponsors, encourage young people, reinvest in society, and employ there …Ken Rock details.

José Xuchi LeBlanc also thinks so. She says it is the societal aspect that nourishes me. But I have no choice: to be able to help others, I must have a capitalist side. The better I do my work, the more I can help others. This is the way I live my original.

Katerie Jordan.

Katerie Jordan believes that Aboriginal people should “use” capitalism to save their culture.

Photo: Julian Schockett

Catheri Jordan, General Manager – for a few more days – of Immobilière montagnaise goes even further. She believes that indigenous people can use capitalism to preserve their culture.

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This desire to experience this culture in a contemporary world becomes an incentive to get a job, so more means to go to the forest, to go salmon fishing, to have a cabin in the woods …, as you say.

« This desire not to lose this culture becomes a driving force to give ourselves the means to preserve it. »

Quote from Katri Jordan, General Manager of Immobilière montagnaise

Essipit . Community Model

The economic model of the Essipit community, the community of Innu located about 400 km west of Uashat, differs from that of Uashat. The band’s board includes many businesses: bowling alley, training room, swimming pool, riverside cottage rental business, outfitters, business offering whale watching tours, etc.

Martin Dufour in his office.

Martin Dufour, president of Essipit, believes that a society’s economic development model has positive consequences for members’ well-being.

Photo: Radio Canada / Delphine Jung

There are about fifteen of them, and this does not include the ten companies in which the band’s board owns shares.

According to the president-elect in 2012, Martin Dufour, owning a large number of companies allows the board of directors To provide quality services, to redistribute these profits for the collective well-being of society, to our elderly and our children.

This strategy is described as natural >> adjective by the chef, who nevertheless recalls that Essipit also has several private businesses, but it is located outside its walls.

Society started from nothing. In the late 1970s, the council was still meeting in homes.

Two fishermen return a lobster net on a boat.

The Uapan fishery is owned by the Uashat mak Mani-utenam community.

Photo: Radio Canada/Caroline Gerrard

So when the first community companies appeared, It was natural for the people to work in the council and to work to start the economy of the community. We left that, with the values ​​of society, and people still find themselves in it. they found it can give That companies belong to societysays Mark Genest, Chief Financial Officer and Economic Development.

Also in Oshat, some companies still belong to the community, such as the company that manages garbage collection or the fishery of Uapan. But the political will to develop private companies is very strong.

The limits of economic growth

Not everyone benefits from these economic developments. In Uashat again, some have to turn to food banks, particularly those called Nishk, which are installed in Mani-utenam and run by Karine Fontaine.

Karen Fontaine in front of shelves full of food.

Karen Fontaine is the food aid counter at Uashat mak Mani-utenam.

Photo: Radio Canada / Delphine Jung

She says about 100 people call her every month.

There are people who do not benefit from this economic development, who do not dare to ask for help to get out of their misery, who do not have confidence in themselves., she says in front of shelves full of food.

Two children waiting at a bus shelter.

The population of the Uashat mak Mani-utenam community is just over 3,000.

Photo: Radio Canada / Delphine Jung

Joyce Gregoire, project director at the Center for Indigenous Friendship in Sept-Ile, assures us that needs are still great on a psychological and social level, but she acknowledges that entrepreneurs are already interested in reinvesting in the community.

Everyone will come to the same thing: There is nothing perfect in this clever mix of values.

This text is the third in a series of articles on the economic development of the Innu of the North Shore.

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