Development of the Labrador Trough – Position of the Innu of the North Shore
UASHAT MAK MANI-UTENAM, QC, April 13, 2018 – In response to yesterday’s announcement of a new partnership between Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador with respect to the development of the Labrador Trough, the Innu Takuaikan Uashat mak Mani-utenam and the Matimekush-Lac John Council wish to highlight the fact that the Labrador Trough is largely located within the traditional territory (Nitassinan) of the Innu of Uashat mak Mani-utenam and the Innu of Matimekush-Lac John, both of whom assert Aboriginal title and rights to the trough and the minerals found therein.
“Quebec and Newfoundland continue to live in a bygone era, one in which they believe it is still possible to disregard First Nations on their own territories. Not only was Quebec just recently trying to sideline us from federal environmental assessments, but is now entering into partnership agreements that we are learning about after the fact.” Said Chief Mike McKenzie of the Innu Takuaikan Uashat mak Mani-utenam. “They apologized the first time – will they apologize this time as well? Why not just do the right thing from the start?” wondered Chief McKenzie.
“Here we have two provinces making deals regarding the traditional lands and resources of the Innu of Matimekush-Lac John and the Innu of Uashat mak Mani-utenam. This is the form of colonial conduct that has been repudiated by the International law and by the promises of governments of Canada” added Chief Tshani Ambroise of Matimekush-Lac John. “But never forget that we are here and without us, the projects won’t see the light of day.”
The Innu of Uashat mak Mani-utenam and the Innu of Matimekush-Lac John are presently pursuing their $900 millionlawsuit against the IOC mining company, majority owned by Rio Tinto, which has exploited the resources within the Innu’s territory since the 1950s without ever having shared any of the wealth extracted or come to an agreement with them. The case is currently pending before the Supreme Court of Canada on a question of the Quebec Courts’ jurisdiction with respect to the entire suit.
“What is most bothersome and harmful is that yesterday’s announcement completely ignores the legal conflict regarding IOC-Rio Tinto’s exploitation, without agreement, of a portion of such territory. We are not opposed to responsible development so long as the companies seeking to operate on our territory are willing to respect our rights, our Mother Earth and our traditions,” explained Chief McKenzie.
For further information: Jean-Alexandre D’Etcheverry, 514-910-1328