New Innu Nation Grand Chief eager to start work on issues
‘I felt it was a victory for youth in both communities’
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.
New Innu Nation Grand Chief Gregory Rich