Cardinal Communications, Inc.

November 26, 2009 23:59 ET

Territorial rights in Labrador: The Innu Strategic Alliance takes action and invades the Parliament in Ottawa

OTTAWA, Nov. 26 - Today, a large delegation of five Innu Chiefs and sixty Elders have come from northern Quebec to Ottawa to denounce the wrongful denial of their rights to their territories in Labrador (Newfoundland). "The provincial boundaries are those of governments, not ours. Our rights in Labrador cannot be denied simply because we live west of an imaginary line that has no meaning to us", said Chief McKenzie of Matimekush-Lac John, speaking on behalf of his fellow Chiefs - Raphael Picard of Pessamit, Georges-Ernest Grégoire of Uashat mak Maniutenam, Georges-C.S. Bâcon of Unamen Shipu and Jean-Charles Piétacho of Ekuanitshit.

The Innu Strategic Alliance Chiefs particularly denounce the federal government's nonaction towards the severe encroachment on their land rights since the recent agreement between the Government of Newfoundland and two Innu communities in Labrador was signed. "We just want to remind the Government of their fiduciary obligation to protect our rights and to compel provincial governments to recognize Aboriginal rights, wherever Aboriginals live," said the Chiefs.

Since time immemorial, the Innu have been associated with the northern territories of north-east Canada, the Nitassinan. And - for centuries - the Innu have travelled and controlled this territory... until the imposition of borders by non-Aboriginal governments.

Recently, the government of Newfoundland entered into a tripartite agreement, called Tsash Petapen, between the Innu Nation (body representing two communities in Labrador), the Energy Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador and the province. This agreement takes no account of the rights of the Innu living in Quebec, even though these rights exist within the concerned territories. Facing this deplorable violation of rights, the Innu have tried several times to make their voices heard. They have received no responses; neither from the government of Newfoundland nor from the Minister of Indian Affairs of Canada, who did not even attempt a reply to the letters the Chiefs sent him.

The Innu Chiefs and Elders are also very concerned about a possible treaty conclusion between the Innu Nation, the Government of Newfoundland and the federal government. They also challenge the Newfoundland government's management of wildlife resources (especially with regards to caribou hunting).

After several unanswered calls, the Innu Chiefs have decided not to remain idle as their rights are violated. They require the federal government to take immediate action to prevent any encroachment on their rights. As well, they urge the government to reject any agreement in Labrador not negotiated with them. Failing this, the five Chiefs warn they will use other means to protect and defend their rights.

This afternoon, the delegation led by the five Chiefs will be attending the 'question period' at the Parliament of Canada. They will, then, be available for interviews on site. The Chiefs are also available at any time for interviews, in person, or by telephone.

About the Innu Strategic Alliance

The Strategic Alliance includes the Innu community Chiefs of Ekuanitshit, Matimekush-Lac John, Pessamit, Uashat mak Maniutenam and Unamen Shipu, representing about 10,000 people, which is 70% of the Innu Nation living in Quebec. The Strategic Alliance enables parties to defend their rights and, through convergent interests, to initiate joint actions of all kinds to achieve political, economic and judicial results.

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