SCOFF Video 7/8: Elizabeth Penashue, Innu Donuts

Now there’s all kinds of problems … cancer, diabetes, kidney problem, high blood pressure. We didn’t have that in the bush in the country.
— Elizabeth Penashue

Penashue is a grandmother to 53 grandchildren: that’s a lot of people to pass her wisdom along to, and she has plenty of food skills to share. 

Her video covers Innu donuts, a recipe that uses a long-standing favourite in the province: molasses. But don’t ask her for a proper recipe, “Innu people, we never never use measurements,” she says. It’s all intuitive, and habitual, from doing it daily. 

In her video, she also speaks to the importance of nursing mothers nourishing themselves, and practices for doing so, like drinking water fish was made in. “That’s why not too many people were sick. Now there’s all kinds of problems … cancer, diabetes, kidney problem, high blood pressure. We didn’t have that in the bush in the country.”

She speaks of a time when “there was good fish to eat and all kinds of meat. Now people buy it all in the store. It’s not the same. My people always ate country food.”

This is why she’s been teaching traditional food skills and knowledge for twenty years. As she says, “If I stop now, who will teach the children?” She teaches her grandchildren and great-grandchildren everything she knows, all 77 of them, so they will “always pass it on and on. I tell them don’t ever forget what I teach you is very important for us; our culture.”

Food First NL’s 8-part SCOFF video series celebrates, preserves, and shares a wealth of traditional food skills from seniors in Newfoundland & Labrador.