‘It happened today, and it happened to Peter’

by Aaron Wherry

Tonda MacCharles profiles the new Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs.

The remarkable journey of Innu leader Peter Penashue—the first First Nations person to achieve a full-fledged position at the federal cabinet table—began with sobriety. As a young man, Penashue battled twin demons common in his native Labrador Naskapi Indian community. Sexually abused as a youth by a priest from Ontario, he drank too much, and despaired that things would ever change.

At 26, Penashue woke up “really hung-over” and alone on his son’s sixth birthday. He had a moment of clarity. Nothing would change for his family unless he did. The father of four set out to do just that.




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‘It happened today, and it happened to Peter’

  1. A Canadian ‘rags to riches’ story.  Good on ya Mr  Penashue!

  2. This is by far, one of the most wonderful things to be happening in Canadian poitics.  First Nations wanting to be included - too bad Chief Dan George didn’t live to see it.  

    “Oh God! Like the thunderbird of old I shall rise again out of the sea; I shall grab the instruments of the white man’s success-his education, his skills- and with these new tools I shall build my race into the proudest segment of your society.Before I follow the great chiefs who have gone before us, Oh Canada, I shall see these things come to pass. I shall see our young braves and our chiefs sitting in the houses of law and government, ruling and being ruled by the knowledge and freedoms of our great land.So shall we shatter the barriers of our isolation. So shall the next hundred years be the greatest in the proud history of our tribes and nations.” 

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