At the time, Alexis Joveneau was highly regarded in the Innu community of Pakuashipi and La Romaine (Unamen Shipu).
The missionary from Belgium had such an effect on the Innu that for years they kept their silence about what he was doing.
Joveneau didn’t just have a hold on the Innu – Canada and the province of Quebec threatened to pull all subsidies from the community if they didn’t follow his plan.
But as it turned out, Joveneau was a sexual predator.
Simone Bellefleur was nine years old when she was abused for the first time by Joveneau.
“Now I notice things what this priest put us through I always felt anger,” said Simone Bellefleur who was nine years old when she was first abused by Joveneau.
He harassed and molested many young Innu girls and women during his years along the northern shores of the St. Lawrence river – with impunity.
Joveneau first arrived in Unamen Shipu in 1953.
The missionary (Oblate) learned the Innu language and translated religious courses and the mass in Innu.
He stayed 39 years and died in 1992.
(Alexis Joveneau in an undated photo)
He is buried in Unamen Shipu.
The government gave him control of the welfare cheques to distribute to the Innu.
Hi plan was to move the Innu of Pakuashipi to Unamen Shipu, 300 km west along the St. Lawrence River.
“I was carrying this anger within me,” Bellefleur told the commissioners. “What frustrated me and angers me today I am a mother I always want to be violent against my daughter.”
Catholicism is still being practiced by many Innu communities today.
But Bellefleur said she decided to take another path after attending a Sundance Ceremony a decade ago.
“That is where I saw the faith of my ancestors my grandparents, grandfathers, grandmothers,” she said. “And now I live my life with these aboriginal beliefs they are part of my life and it has been some ten years that I am following a spiritual path.”
As part of her healing, she also made recommendations to the inquiry.
“I made my recommendation for us to receive a camp with a therapy centre because everyone needs it,” she said.