GOOSE BAY, NL, Feb. 20 /CNW Telbec/ - Approximately 150 hunters of the five communities of the Innu Strategic Alliance leave today to exercise their Aboriginal rights on the Nitassinan, the Innu ancestral lands spread over parts of Québec and Labrador. "Our ancestral land, which ignores all boundaries imposed by non-Aboriginal governments, is largely located in Labrador, where we have always hunted caribou and we wil continue to do so, despite the threat of seizure by the Newfoundland authorities, challenged the Chief of the community of Matimekush-Lac John, Réal McKenzie.
Following the federal government's non-action regarding the imminent signing of a treaty extinguishing the rights of the Innu in Quebec, on the ancestral lands located in Labrador, the Chiefs have decided to organize a global hunt to assert their Aboriginal rights related to the hunting of caribou. "This wil be an opportunity to remind governments that caribou hunting is an integral part of our culture and we intend to defend our rights vigorously, said the Chief of the community of Uashat Mak Mani Utenam, Georges-Ernest Grégoire.
Caribou hunting has always been the cornerstone of the nomadic culture of the Innu. Far from being a mere act of kil ing, hunting is the environment in which the whole society reinforces its vitality. As a result, the caribou, in its absence or presence, has conditioned the socio-economic development of the Innu Nation.
Today, despite the forced settlement, the caribou continues to be paramount among the Innu. The hunt and travel within the territory are of central cultural significance. "Our hunters today stil use the techniques of trapping, hunting, and traditional cuisine. This global hunting activity wil feed several families for the coming weeks," said the Chief of the community of Unamen Shipu, Georges CS. Bacon.
A treaty in Labrador
The possibility of the imminent signing of a treaty between the two Innu communities in Labrador, grouped under the governance of the Innu Nation, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Government of Canada, is enraging the five Innu communities of the Strategic Al iance located in Quebec. "This treaty - including the talks on which we were not consulted - wil extinguish our rights to our ancestral lands on the Labrador side. This makes no sense. The Crown must respect its obligation and duty of consultation established in 2004 by the Supreme Court in the Haida case. And again, wil the Government of Canada keep its word?" asked the Chief of the community of Ekuanitshit, Jean-Charles Piétacho.
Innu Strategic Alliance
The Strategic Al iance 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 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 Al iance wil last a week. More than 150 hunters wil participate in the expedition and wil travel to the forbidden territory by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, near Cash River, five hours from the town of Wabush. "Our communities owe their survival to the Nitassinan and we wil do everything possible to safeguard our heritage in Labrador, announced the five Innu leaders of the Alliance jointly.
SOURCE ALLIANCE STRATEGIQUE INNUE
For further information: For further information: Eric Cardinal, Cardinal Communication, (450) 638-5159, (514) 258-2315, 1-877-638-5159, firstname.lastname@example.org. Note to editors: A press briefing will be given upon the return of the hunters in Wabush on February 25. A media advisory wil be sent out in the coming week. For more information concerning the activity, please consult the blog An outlook on the Aboriginal world at www.cardinalcommunication.com. You may also follow the Twitter Cardinal Communication link at http://twitter.com/Ercardinal.