Conflict in Schefferville - "First Nations' rights are an inescapable fact" - Chief Ghislain Picard



    MATIMEKOSH, QC, Sept. 17 /CNW Telbec/ - "After decades of fruitless
negotiations, broken promises, and faced with a growing number of potential
conflicts, the Head of Government must now send a clear signal to his
ministers as well as to all Quebeckers: First Nations' rights are an
inescapable fact", declared the Chief of the Assembly of First Nations of
Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL), Ghislain Picard, on the barricade erected by the
Innu of Matimekosh, in Schefferville. The Chief of the AFNQL supports
Chief Réal McKenzie (Matimekosh-Lac John) and Chief Georges-Ernest Grégoire
(Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam) in their struggle for the respect of First Nations'
rights.
    The Innu of Matimekosh-Lac John and of Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam have
blocked off access to their ancestral territory to outfitters and their
clients. Once more aggravated by the government of Quebec's failure to act and
laisser faire, the Innu have no other choice but to gird themselves for action
to enforce their Aboriginal rights and protect their way of life.
    The Innu are especially critical of outfitters' unfair legal or illegal
practices in the territory that, for commercial purposes, jeopardize the way
of life of the Innu who hunt for their subsistence in this region. For
example, it is quite common to see a plane fly over traditional Innu hunting
territories at very low altitudes. This disturbs the migration of the caribou
herds and jeopardizes the practice of subsistence hunt as well as of
traditional hunt.
    The Quebec government often ignores willingly unacceptable practices the
Innu have been exposing for a long time, let alone the fact that it continues
to allow a regional development that takes absolutely no account of the rights
and interests of Aboriginal peoples.
    "Quebec asserts it is a state governed by the rule of law. Henceforth,
said rule of law must include First Nations' Aboriginal rights, which are
fundamental and compelling rights", concludes the Chief of the AFNQL,
Ghislain Picard.

    The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador is a regional
organization that represents the Chiefs of the First Nations of Quebec and
Labrador.




For further information:

For further information: Alain Garon, Information and Communications
Officer, APNQL, (418) 842-5020, Cell.: (418) 956-5720


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