A dispute between the Innu Strategic Alliance (ISA), which represents members from five Quebec Innu communities, and the province of Newfoundland is raging on after the ISA staged a hunt of the George River caribou herd on land that is being signed off for hydroelectric development.
At the end of February, 150 Innu from the five ISA communities exercised their Aboriginal rights on Nitassinan in Labrador, the Innu ancestral land that covers parts of Quebec and Labrador and hunted down approximately 250 caribou.
Newfoundland, however, is arguing that the hunters had no place hunting down the caribou as that specific breed is endangered and in a protected area. The province is also in the process of signing a treaty with two other Labrador Innu groups that will see them compensated for the proposed Lower Churchill hydroelectric mega-project. The ISA is excluded in the treaty.
According to the ISA, the hunt was in protest to the Canada’s and Newfoundland’s refusal to recognize the rights of the Innu residing in Quebec. The ISA tribes are nomadic and have stated that they do not recognize borders drawn up by Euro-Canadians, hundreds of years ago.
In a press release, Chief Real McKenzie from Matimekush-Lac-John said, “Our protest was clear and has sharpened our determination to defend our rights against any missives from the federal and provincial governments.”
The ISA has now threatened to erect barricades to disrupt development projects in both provinces in an assertion of their traditional rights.
Newfoundland and Labrador however are now accusing the ISA of trying to incite violence while at the same time they are also threatening to pursue legal action.
At press time, charges against any of the Innu hunters had yet to be laid.