Mike McKenzie, Chief of the Uashat mak Mani-utenam Innu calls on Prime Minister Harper
SEPT-ILES, QC, Oct. 14, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - While participating in a press conference hosted by the Governments of Canada and Quebec concerning the building of a new pier for the port of Sept-Iles, Mike McKenzie, Chief of the Uashat mak Mani-utenam took the opportunity to remind Prime Minister Harper that the Innu Nation is an indispensable partner when it comes to hydroelectric, forestry and mining resources.
"In all development, First Nations must be consulted and accommodated. The time when only economic arguments justified the completion of projects is over. The people, especially those who will have to live with the direct consequences of various projects, must be consulted on their direction," explained Chief Mike McKenzie.
While both levels of government talked about the development of Nitassinan natural resources, Denis Lebel, the federal Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs was both open to the discussion of and understanding towards the issues expressed by Chief Mike McKenzie.
Chief McKenzie reminded both Minister Lebel and Prime Minister Harper that the Innu support economic development as long as it is partnered with the responsible and sustainable development of resources, in addition to the protection of the land and traditional way of life of the Innu, given that their cultural survival is under direct threat.
The industry's approach, described as "colonial" by the Innu and other Canadian First Nations, and a change towards concrete partnership and the respecting of recognized workplace and collaboration standards is being called for. In this regard, the Innu are currently battling IOC/Rio Tinto for damages for over 65 years of mining without the company ever having paid any compensation to the nation. "The times of bits of mirror for 100 beaver pelts are gone. The relationship between nations must be at the heart of our exchanges with government, and sharing the wealth of the development of our natural resources is a must. For the economic certainty of the Côte-Nord and the advancement of our communities," added Jean-Claude Therrien Pinette, office director for the territory.
SOURCE: Innu First Nations
For further information: Alexandre Bacon, Aboriginal governance advisor, cell: 418-262-3153, [email protected]