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Executive Council
Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs
Tourism, Culture and Recreation
August 10, 2009

Memorial to Former Residents of Hebron Unveiled

The Honourable Danny Williams, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, travelled to Hebron today to take part in the unveiling of a memorial erected for residents relocated from the northern Labrador Inuit community in 1959. Joining Premier Williams were the Honourable Patty Pottle, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs; the Honourable John Hickey, Minister of Labrador Affairs; and the Honourable Clyde Jackman, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation. Also present were Nunatsiavut Government President Jim Lyall, Minister of Culture, Recreation and Tourism Ben Ponniuk, and former Hebron residents.

"We have come here today to pay tribute to the Inuit families who once stood here and proudly called Hebron home," said Premier Williams. "One of the most humbling experiences I have had as Premier was delivering the official apology in 2005. That apology was generously and graciously accepted. At that time, we also committed to assist in the construction of a memorial to those who had been relocated and I am extremely pleased to see this commitment realized today. Our government has provided $20,000 towards the completion of three bronze plaques containing the names of those relocated from Hebron along with the texts of the apology and its acceptance. On this historic day, we witness the dedication of a monument that will serve as a memorial to those individuals. This monument is also a poignant reminder that what happened here 50 years ago must never be allowed to happen again."

On January 22, 2005, Premier Williams delivered a statement of apology to the Inuit of the former communities of Nutak and Hebron, closed in 1956 and 1959 respectively. The apology was issued for the manner in which the decision to close those communities was made and for the difficulties experienced by former residents and their descendents as a result of the closures.

"While the forced relocation has resulted in hardship and pain for those affected, we cannot change the past," said President Lyall. "We must move forward, but we must not forget the past. The monument erected at Hebron, and the names inscribed on the plaque, will serve as a reminder of this sad time in our history."

The monument unveiled today has the texts of that apology in both English and Inuktitut. The Nunatsiavut Government intends to eventually hold a similar event at Nutak.

"It is deeply moving to stand here today and see the faces of the people who once called Hebron home," said Minister Pottle. "We gather here now, as former residents, Inuit leaders, and representatives of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, to acknowledge what happened here fifty years ago. This memorial will help ensure future generations will know what happened here and to whom, that an apology was made and accepted, and that we will all endeavour to see to it that this tragedy is not repeated."

Minister Jackman commented on the value of Aboriginal culture to the province. "Newfoundlanders and Labradorians recognize today, as perhaps we did not 50 years ago, the importance of Aboriginal history and culture," said Minister Jackman. "We also understand how important it is that we support efforts to safeguard both tangible and intangible Aboriginal heritage, and the spirit of the people � both past and present � who embody it."

Minister Hickey noted that this memorial, constructed of Labradorite, will assist in the telling of a tragic but important story in the history of Labrador. "The relocation of the people who lived here has caused profound hardship and suffering that is felt to this day," said Minister Hickey. "The story of Hebron serves as a powerful lesson that we must always be mindful of how our actions � as governments and as individuals � can impact others. We must never forget what the experience of the men, women and children who lived here has taught us."

"This is a historic day for Labrador Inuit as it represents the end of a sad chapter in the history of those who were forced to relocate from the community of Hebron," said Minister Ponniuk. "The pain and suffering experienced by those who were forced to move, and the hardships they and their descendents have endured over the past 50 years cannot simply be forgotten. This monument will serve as a reminder that we must never again allow tragic events such as this to occur."

The text of the apology to former residents of Hebron and Nutak can be found at

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Media contacts:

Elizabeth Matthews
Director of Communications
Office of the Premier
Roger Scaplen
Press Secretary
Office of the Premier
709-729-4304, 727-0991
John Tompkins
Director of Communications
Department of Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs
709-729-1674, 728-7762
Heather May
Director of Communications
Department of Tourism, Culture
and Recreation
709-729-0928, 697-5061
Bert Pomeroy
Nunatsiavut Government
709-896-8582, 922-2942

2009 08 10 3:15 p.m.

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