Innu Na­tion said Nu­natukavut an­nounce­ment cre­ates ‘real mess’

Dis­put­ing Nu­natukavut be­ing con­sid­ered Abo­rig­i­nal

The Labradorian - - Front Page - BY EVAN CAREEN

The Innu Na­tion has some strong words for the fed­eral gov­ern­ment in re­ac­tion to the an­nounce­ment that the fed­eral gov­ern­ment and Nu­natukavut Com­mu­nity Coun­cil (NCC) would be mov­ing ahead with Indige­nous rights ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Peter Pe­nashue, a former Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment for Labrador and mem­ber of the Innu Na­tion Land Claim ne­go­ti­a­tion team, said the an­nounce­ment cre­ates a “real mess for land claim ne­go­ti­a­tions in Labrador for the next 30 years.”

The Innu Na­tion has been ne­go­ti­at­ing its land claim with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment since 1977 and is now in the fi­nal stages. Pe­nashue said this move to rec­og­nize Indige­nous rights of Nu­natukavut jeop­ar­dizes all of that.

“It’s a new group and sud­denly we find our­selves need­ing to fight over land with this new group, NCC or the Métis. And now, after ne­go­ti­a­tions with Canada and New­found­land for over 30 years, we’re go­ing to have a dispute over land,” he said. “Be­cause they’re go­ing to be seek­ing the same rights in those land we have cho­sen and we have se­lected.”

He said they ex­pect Nu­natuKavut to claim the Muskrat Falls and Lower Churchill ar­eas, which is go­ing to com­pli­cate the Innu Na­tions claim on the same lands. The Innu Na­tion feels the fed­eral gov­ern­ment should have con­cluded the land claim with them be­fore speak­ing to an­other group, Pe­nashue said.

He said they dispute Nu­natukavut claim on those lands and said he dis­putes whether they should be con­sid­ered Abo­rig­i­nal.

“They (have) ob­vi­ously been here for some time and a lot of them have been born here. But are they Abo­rig­i­nal? I don’t think so,” he said.

The NCC was pre­vi­ously known as the Labrador Métis As­so­ci­a­tion and changed its name in 2010. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 2016 that cer­tain groups of what are com­monly known as Métis have the same rights as other Indige­nous groups. Pe­nashue said in his opin­ion this sets a prece­dent in Canada.

“There has never been a group that sprung out of nowhere that’s sud­denly an abo­rig­i­nal group,” he said.

He said there has been long stand­ing Abo­rig­i­nal groups in the ter­ri­to­ries and other places in the north, but they’ve al­ways known each other as be­ing Abo­rig­i­nal groups.

“Now here we are in a very un­usual cir­cum­stance, set­tlers be­com­ing Métis be­com­ing Inuit and now are go­ing to fight us over land,” Pe­nashue said. “That’s a very un­usual case.”

He said this should be a con­cern for all First Na­tions who have treaties with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. He said Métis groups have never been able to prove they have land ti­tle and land rights be­fore, but now the Métis across the coun­try are en­ti­tled to hav­ing land claims.

He said this should be a con­cern for all First Na­tions across the coun­try.

“That’s a huge fun­da­men­tal change in Cana­dian pol­icy,” he said. “This is huge.

“I don’t know if you have an ap­pre­ci­a­tion of what Canada has done to­day, this is his­toric. They have now rec­og­nized a group, in this case the Métis, to be recog­nised first of all as be­ing Indige­nous and rec­og­niz­ing them as hav­ing land rights. And that’s go­ing to have a huge im­pact across the coun­try.”

PHOTO BY EVAN CAREEN

Land claim ne­go­ti­at­ing team mem­ber David Nuke, Innu Na­tion Deputy Grand Chief Eti­enne Rich, Innu Na­tion Grand Chief Gre­gory Rich and Land claim ne­go­ti­at­ing team mem­ber Peter Pe­nashue spoke to the me­dia on Thurs­day, July 12 about the an­nounce­ment of...

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