WENDAKE, QC, April 2 /CNW Telbec/ - The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL) is once again concerned that a provincial government is demonstrating a total disregard for First Nations rights. In 2008 the Newfoundland government had threatened to destroy Innu camps because of non compliance with provincial regulations. This has been the Innu homeland for thousands of years and Innu title and rights upon these territories are not extinguished. These title and rights are not subject to restriction by provincial boundaries or provincial hunting regulations and as such the Innu hunt is not illegal as stated by the Newfoundland government. The Innu were never consulted on the state of the caribou. It is senseless that such decisions are made and those, whose culture and existence which has been so intertwined with the caribou for millennia were not duly consulted.
The current Innu have hunted this caribou for thousands of years, just like the Innu from other parts of Nitassinan. Innu from both sides of the non-Innu boundary have hunted this caribou for years as recently as December and there were no complications created by the Newfoundland provincial government.
"The concern here is that there seems to be a preference to create a confrontational situation and promote a negative image of the Innu people rather than sitting down with the Innu. The Innu territory of Nitassinan extends across two provinces. Many elders say that the provincial boundary which crosses Nitassinan is not an Innu boundary and they were never consulted on such a division of their territory", explains Chief Ghislain Picard of the AFNQL.
The provincial Minister of Natural Resources Kathy Dunderdale not only portrayed this hunt as being illegal but also brought further prejudice to the Innu hunt by stating that the Innu were using GPS technology and wide-track skidoos. The effort to discredit the hunt by also stating that elders, men, women and children were accompanying them is shameful and demonstrates how little provincial governments understand and care to know about Innu realities.
This is not a hunt for "sport" where several thousands of non native hunters utilize a vast array of technology to help them track and kill for "pleasure". Does the minister expect the Innu who are carrying out a subsistence hunt for their community to begin using bows and arrows?
Mr. Corbeil's remarks about the Innu nation having rights on land that "once belonged to them", is an insult and an outrage. Just exactly when did the Innu nation cede or give its territory away? Please answer the question Mr. Corbeil. This dictates to your colonial governments for acquisition of any piece of aboriginal territory are clear in the proclamation of 1763. The Innu do not need to go home, they are home on Nitassinan, which existed long before Europeans realized the earth wasn't flat.
Unless there are other sinister motives, rather than using the blunt instrument of provincial law enforcement I invite Premier Danny Williams to follow through on the commitments he made to the Innu Chiefs in Quebec City this past July 2008. Openness to dialogue with the Innu Nation and efforts to understand the realities of the Innu Nation hold much more potential for a peaceful, respectful and honourable solution, which is in fact the duty of the crown in this matter.
The Assembly of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador is the regional organization regrouping the Chiefs of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador.
SOURCE Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador
For further information: For further information: Alain Garon, Communication Officer, AFNQL, (418) 842-5020