December 05, 2008 23:59 ET

Four Innu communities unite to defend their territorial rights - "The real North Plan"

QUEBEC CITY, Dec. 5 - "The real North Plan is this one,"
said Réal McKenzie, Chief of the Innu community of Matimekush-Lac John, during
the signing of an agreement to create a strategic alliance between his
community and those of Ekuanitshit, Pessamit, and Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam.
"With this Strategic Alliance, we can unite to better defend our title and our
rights against the governments that continually act without taking them into
consideration," said Raphael Picard, Chief of the Innu of Pessamit.
The Strategic Alliance among the Innu governments of Ekuanitshit,
Matimekush-Lac John, Pessamit, and Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam provides in
particular that the signatories will insist that royalty and dividend
formulas, shares in net earnings, rents, lease payments, retroactive
compensation, participation in shareholders' earnings and capital payments for
the past, present, and future development of their lands. "For too long, the
development of these lands and natural resources has gone ahead without our
consent and with no consideration for our title and our ancestral rights. But
the development of these lands and natural resources has had an enormous
impact on the our way of life, on our occupation of and access to Nitassinan,
and on the traditional activities, language, and culture of our communities,"
said Jean-Charles Pietacho, Chief of the Innu of Ekuanitshit.
For the members of this Alliance, geographical borders have no
importance, and the parts of the ancestral lands located in Labrador are just
as important as those in Quebec when it comes to asserting their rights.

Full Autonomy for the Innu

"What we want is to exercise our full autonomy and to make our own
decisions about the use of this land and the natural resources, without being
subject to the laws and regulations of other governments," said Georges Ernest
Grégoire, Chief of Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam.
The four communities that have signed this Alliance represent
approximately 8,500 Innus, or about 60% of the total population of Innu
communities in Quebec. Their common land (Nitassinan) covers 460,000 sq. km.
in Quebec and Labrador.

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