“Manikanetish”: wonderful trip to the land of the Innu

«Manikanetish”: wonderful trip to Innu country


Getting to the Innus of the North Shore takes more than 10 hours by road from Montreal, but you don't need to drive that far to explore part of their universe. Just go to Duceppe to see the touching play Manikanetish.

This adaptation of Naomi Fontaine's novel is an essential journey to learn more about this people, and more generally about the Aboriginal peoples, with whom we share the territory.

As in the book, the story is inspired by the real life of the author, who also finds herself on stage as a narrator. The one who grew up in the Quebec region returns to Uashat, on the North Shore, to teach French at the high school from which the name of the production is taken. Desiring to reconnect with her roots while motivating teenagers, the heroine is confronted with cultural differences and her teaching inexperience dealing with unruly students since she is fresh out of university. 

< strong>Indigenous youth on stage

The cast is entirely indigenous except for one musician. They are mostly young Innu from the North Shore, but there is one from Mashteuiatsh as well as a Mi’kmaq from Gespeg. Even if it was their first steps in the theater, the young actors are doing very well. We find in particular Sharon Fontaine-Ishpatao, who distinguished herself in the excellent film Kuessipan, and who embodies Yammie, the teacher at the heart of the story.

This staging by Jean-Simon Traversy gives pride of place to the culture of the Innu thanks to music and a few phrases in their language. 

After a hesitant start, the story takes off as actors gain confidence as they transition from humor to drama with ease. The many funny lines amuse the public and offer a very effective contrast to bring tragic moments, like what unfortunately too often happens in Aboriginal communities. Social problems are therefore addressed without taking up too much space. 

This portrait certainly simplifies the lives of these young people, but it certainly sensitizes the majority of the audience while presenting their challenges in a touching way. and their accomplishments. 

“Our voices are heard”, we say at the end of the show. This production, which will come out of the metropolis, deserves to be seen by all.

  • Manikanetish ★★★ ★☆

Manikanetish is presented until April 8 at Duceppe