Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs
March 21, 2011
The Government of Canada Reaches Financial Agreement
with the Innu of Labrador
The Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, and Joseph Riche and George Rich, Grand Chief and Deputy Grand Chief of the Innu Nation of Labrador, announced today in Ottawa the signing of a financial agreement. The Government of Canada is currently in land claim negotiations with the Innu of Labrador and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.
"The signing of this financial agreement is a significant achievement and a concrete example of our commitment to move this process ahead in a timely manner with the Innu Nation of Labrador," said Minister Duncan. “Today is a significant step towards settling a land claim that will benefit the Innu and, indeed, all Canadians. This agreement will also be key to reaching an important Agreement-in-Principle (AIP) among the Government of Canada, Innu Nation of Labrador and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.”
“Today’s agreement on the financial settlement reached between ourselves and Canada marks an historic step toward completion of the Innu Land Claim,” said Grand Chief Joseph Riche. “I want to acknowledge our grandfathers, our grandmothers and those Innu leaders current and past, who contributed so much to make this day possible. I also acknowledge the Innu children to come. I want to thank Minister John Duncan for his significant role in this agreement. I would also like to acknowledge the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, including former Premier Danny Williams, Premier Kathy Dunderdale and Minister Patty Pottle for their support. For too many years we, as Innu people, were invisible to Canada. Our cries for help and support went unheard. Today we are working together to resolve our legitimate grievances and to set in place the pillars for forging a new relationship with Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador. We should all applaud this accomplishment – one that will echo in the centuries to come.”
"On behalf of all Newfoundland and Labrador, I extend heartfelt congratulations to the Innu Nation and the Government of Canada on their shared success in reaching this important milestone towards a final land claims agreement," said the Honourable Patty Pottle, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs. "I understand that following today's historic proceedings, the Innu Nation is preparing to bring the New Dawn agreements reached between our government and the Innu Nation forward for ratification. A successful vote will result in yet another giant step forward in both the Innu of Labrador land claims process and the Lower Churchill Generation Project, which will see further financial benefits flow to the Innu, along with the flow of hydroelectricity for the benefit of Newfoundland and Labrador and Canada."
The signing of this financial agreement between Canada and the Innu Nation of Labrador is key to reaching an Agreement-in-Principle (AIP) among all three parties. The next step will be for the negotiators to finalize the minor details of the AIP in the next few weeks and secure the internal approvals to sign it and move forward. A successful ratification vote by the Innu people of Labrador on the AIP, Lower Churchill hydroelectric project Impacts and Benefits Agreement and Upper Churchill Redress Agreement is another step towards support for the Lower Churchill development.
The Innu of Labrador have a population of approximately 2,400 members living within the communities of Sheshatshiu and Natuashish. Sheshatshiu is located 55 kilometres outside of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, while Natuashish is a remote community located 300 kilometres north of Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
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Photo 1: Back Row
Deputy Grand Chief George Rich, Chief Sebastian Benuen, Minister John Duncan, Grand Chief Joseph Riche, Chief Simeon Tshakapesh, Minister Patty Pottle
Front Row Michel Jack Sr., Ponus Nuke, Sebastian Penusi, Simon Michel Sr.
Director of Communications
Office of the Min. of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
Innu Nation of Labrador
Director of Communications
Department of Labrador and Aboriginal
Affairs Government of Newfoundland and Labrador
2011 03 21 12:35 p.m.