New Innu Na­tion Grand Chief ea­ger to start work on is­sues

‘I felt it was a vic­tory for youth in both com­mu­ni­ties’

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - EDITORIAL - BY EVAN CAREEN

Gre­gory Rich, the newly elected Grand Chief of the Innu Na­tion, said his vic­tory at the polls isn’t just a vic­tory for him, but for everyone who sup­ported a sober cam­paign.

“There was a lot of bad stuff hap­pen­ing,” he said. “It was a lot of hard work. I wasn’t pro­vid­ing sub­stances or money when I was in She­shat­shiu and Nat­u­ashish. I felt it was a vic­tory for youth in both com­mu­ni­ties be­cause they were walk­ing to have a sober cam­paign, a sober elec­tion. I be­lieved in my heart I could do it with­out any sub­stances, I was an ad­vo­cate for quite some time to have a sober cam­paign. It’s a real vic­tory.”

Youth in both She­shat­shiu and Nat­u­ashish marched dur­ing the cam­paign, call­ing for a sober cam­paign and elec­tion. Rich said he was a big ad­vo­cate of that and wants to ex­tend it be­yond this elec­tion.

“I’ll be talking with the board and I want to take this sober elec­tion to the board level as well and into the com­mu­nity,” he told the Labradorian. “In the past when there was an elec­tion there was a lot of drink­ing and a lot of drugs cir­cu­lat­ing in the com­mu­nity, there was a lot of vote buy­ing.”

He said it’s a prob­lem they have to face and deal with. He wants to look at chang­ing the elec­tion code or en­act­ing a by­law to make the sober cam­paign an on­go­ing thing in the com­mu­ni­ties.

The in­quiry called by the provin­cial gov­ern­ment into the treat­ment of Innu chil­dren in the fos­ter care sys­tem is another big is­sue Rich says needs to be tack­led. He said the first thing he did af­ter win­ning was to go into the of­fice and look at what needs to be done as the next step. He’s glad the prov­ince is mov­ing for­ward on it, he said, since it’s been a long time com­ing.

“It has been a long time com­ing and it has been im­pact­ing our com­mu­ni­ties for a long time. There are dev­as­tat­ing ef­fects to the fam­i­lies in both com­mu­ni­ties. It’s been a prob­lem plagu­ing us as far as I re­mem­ber, in Davis In­let as well.”

He said one thing he thinks might help is a tran­si­tion pe­riod for a child re­turn­ing to a com­mu­nity.

“There is a loss of cul­ture, a loss of language; there is a loss of con­nec­tion with the fam­ily and the other sib­lings. It’s hard to come back. It’s a very se­ri­ous loss that the Innu Na­tion and the lead­ers in both com­mu­ni­ties have to talk about with the peo­ple.”

Rich de­feated for­mer Grand Chief Si­moen Tshakapesh, Luke Nukesh Rich and Si­mon Pokue.

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New Innu Na­tion Grand Chief Gre­gory Rich

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