Newfoundland and Labrador conservation officers' interference leads to the
death of an Innu hunter

GOOSE BAY, NL, Feb. 23 /CNW Telbec/ - The Innu Strategic Alliance and its 150 hunters, who have been exercising their aboriginal rights on the Nitassinan since Saturday, gathered yesterday afternoon to commemorate the death of the Unamen Shipu (Québec) Innu hunter, Jean-Marc Bellefleur.

Mr. Bellefleur, aged 47 and father of three, was a great hunter on the Nitassinan (Innu territory). Last November, along with 30 other hunters, he went to the territory to exercise their hunting rights. On arrival, Mr. Bellefleur felt faint. En route to the Churchill Falls hospital, they were intercepted by conservation officers of Newfoundland and Labrador.

In spite of Bellefleur's visible critical health state, and calls for urgent care repeatedly voiced by his teammates, the conservation officers detained the party for approximately three hours, choosing not to mobilize a helicopter within reach that could have contributed to saving Bellefleur's life.

At the Churchill Falls hospital, the medical staff immediately assessed Bellefleur as critical and had him transferred to Goose Bay hospital, then again, by helicopter, onto St. John's Newfoundland, where he was pronounced dead.

"The conservation officers showed complete lack of judgment. They waited much too long to give adequate care to a man clearly in distress. Would they have treated a Labrador Innu resident in the same way?" questioned Georges C.S. Bacon, Chief of Unamen Shipu.

Innu Strategic Alliance

The Innu Strategic Alliance includes the Innu community Chiefs of Ekuanitshit, Matimekush-Lac John, Pessamit, Uashat mak Mani-Utenam, and Unamen Shipu, representing about 12,000 people, which is 70% of the Innu nation living in Quebec. The Innu Strategic Alliance enables parties to defend their rights and, through convergent interests, to initiate joint actions of all kinds to achieve political, economic, and judicial results.

The global caribou hunting initiated by the Innu Strategic Alliance will last a week. More than 150 hunters participate in this expedition. "Our communities owe their survival to the Nitassinan and we will do everything possible to safeguard our heritage in Labrador," the Innu leaders of the Alliance jointly announced.

SOURCE ALLIANCE STRATEGIQUE INNUE

For further information: For further information: Eric Cardinal, Cardinal Communication, (450) 638-5159, (514) 258-2315, 1-877-638-5159, eric@cardinalcommunication.com

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ALLIANCE STRATEGIQUE INNUE

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