March 20, 2023

It takes more than 10 hours by road from Montreal to get to Innus on the North Shore, but you don’t have to travel that far to explore part of their universe. Just go to Duseppe’s 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, the natives with whom we share this territory.

Like the book, the story is inspired by the real life of the author, who also finds himself on stage as the narrator. The one who grew up in the Quebec area returns to Ouchat on the North Shore to teach high school French, which is where the show’s title comes from. Wanting to reconnect with her roots while motivating teenagers, the heroine faces cultural differences and her inexperience in learning in the face of rebellious students as she has just graduated from university.

Indigenous youth on stage

The cast is entirely local, with the exception of one musician. They are mostly young Innu from the North Shore, but there is one from Mashtuyatsh, as well as Mi’kmaq from Hespeg. Even though these were their first steps in the theater, the young actors are doing very well. In particular, we find Sharon Fontaine-Ixpatao, who excelled in an excellent film Queessipanand who personifies Yammy, the teacher at the heart of the story.

This production by Jean-Simon Traversi honors Innu culture through music and a few phrases in their language.

After a shaky start, the story begins to move forward as the actors gain confidence in the easy transition from humor to drama. Many funny lines entertain the audience and offer a very effective contrast to evoke tragic moments like what unfortunately happens all too often in Aboriginal communities. In this way, social problems are solved without taking up too much space.

This portrait certainly makes life easier for these young people, but it certainly raises the awareness of most viewers by presenting their challenges and accomplishments in a touching way.

“Our voices are heard,” they say at the end of the show. This performance, which will leave the metropolis, deserves to be seen by everyone.

  • Manikanetish ★★★★☆

Manikanetish presented until April 8 in Duceppe

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