Innu Leaders are outraged by yesterday’s announcement that Canada’s Department of Crown-indigenous Affairs will enter into “exploratory” land claims talks with NunatuKavut (NCC), an organization formerly known as the “Labrador Metis Nation”.
“The NCC is a settler organization”, stated Innu Nation Grand Chief Gregory Rich.
“Canada’s decision to engage in land claims talks with NCC is a slap in the face to the Innu. We’ve fought for generations for the recognition and affirmation of our rights. But now Canada is giving priority to the claims of a group which didn’t even exist when we began our struggle, and to people who have only recently declared that they are indigenous. Where does this leave the Innu?”
Innu Nation has been in land claims negotiations since 1977. In 2011, the Innu Nation, Canada and the Province of NL entered into the Tshash Petapen(New Dam) Agreement, a milestone agreement-in-principle towards a land claim and self-government agreement.
“The invitation to NCC to engage in land claims negotiations will have implications not only for the Innu- but for indigenous peoples across the country”, stated Innu nation Deputy Grand chief Etienne Rich. “Governments and settlers used to take our land because they thought Indigenous people had no rights. Now that we are able to assert our rights, settler now say that they have the same rights as we do, and the government is right there to support them. This isn’t reconciliation-it’s a new kind of colonialism.”
Innu Nation is demanding an immediate explanation from Crown-Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett about how NCC talks will affect the conclusion of an Innu land and claim and self-government agreement.