Framework agreement signed
with the Innu Nation of Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Brian Tobin, federal Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development Ronald A. Irwin, and Innu Nation President Peter Penashue today signed a framework agreement, signalling an important step in the process towards reaching a treaty with the Innu in Labrador.
The land claim framework agreement provides a road map for the next stage in upcoming treaty negotiations. It outlines the subjects to be negotiated such as land title, Aboriginal harvesting rights, access to resources, Aboriginal participation in resource management and financial compensation.
Premier Tobin applauded the progress that has been made towards a treaty. "Signing this Framework Agreement today represents a very important and positive step in treaty negotiations with the Innu Nation, paving the way for agreement of substantive issues including land and resources."
"My government has identified treaty negotiations with Aboriginal peoples in Labrador as a top priority. We are fully committed to achieving settlement which will provide the Innu with means necessary to attain self-sufficiency and create a stable and certain environment for economic development in Labrador," the premier added.
"The Innu Nation Framework Agreement forms the fundamental structure for building a new relationship with the Innu, based on partnership and mutual respect," said Mr. Irwin. "Reaching a treaty with the Innu will be a major catalyst for improving the social and economic well-being of the Innu and achieving the certainty non-Aboriginal land and resource users need."
Mr. Penashue stressed the long-term significance of reaching an agreement. "Today we have taken a small but significant step for all future generations of Innu people. Our land and resources are our way of life," Mr. Penashue said.
"In the many months of negotiations that lie ahead we trust that Canada and Newfoundland will recognize our rights. We hope to enter an honourable treaty in which our rights are honoured, the wrong-doings of the past are corrected, and we agree to share our land and resources with the newcomers to our homeland Nitassinan, where we have lived in harmony with the land for thousands of years," Mr. Penashue added.
The Innu Nation is the political association of the Labrador Innu representing approximately 500 Innu in Davis Inlet and 1,100 Innu in Sheshatshiu.
Treaties are negotiated with Aboriginal groups whose asserted Aboriginal title to land and resources has not been dealt with by governments. Treaties are designed to establish certainty and clarity of rights to ownership and use of land and resources.
The framework agreement was initialled by negotiators in October 1995 and the signing ceremony marks the formal ratification of the agreement.