Two Innu communities are lashing out at two provincial governments for ignoring their duty to consult over plans to develop a swath of mineral-rich land that straddles the Labrador, Quebec border.
“Quebec and Newfoundland continue to live in a bygone era, one in which they believe it is still possible to disregard First Nations on their own territories,” said Chief Mike McKenzie of the Innu Takuaikan Uashat mak Mani-utenam in a release.
“Not only was Quebec just recently trying to sideline us from federal environmental assessments, but is now entering into partnership agreements that we are learning about after the fact,”
The land is called the Labrador Trough.
The Innu say it is “largely” located within the traditional territory of the Innu of Uashat mak Mani-utenam and the Innu of Matimekush-Lac John.
Both say they are asserting Aboriginal title and rights to the Labrador Trough and the minerals found there.
Quebec Premier Phillipe Couillard, and Newfoundland and Labrador held a news conference Thursday in Quebec City to announce the deal.
Quebec is encouraging the federal government to join the provinces in the project.
The Labrador Trough is a 1,600 km wide swath of territory that runs from the northern border of Quebec and Labrador to the south.
The Innu of Uashat mak Mani-utenam and the Innu of Matimekush-Lac John are currently involved in a court case over mining and Aboriginal rights and title.
They’re suing the IOC mining company for $900 million for not sharing in the profits of the mining operation on its territory.
The case is currently pending before the Supreme Court.
“What is most bothersome and harmful is that yesterday’s announcement completely ignores the legal conflict regarding IOC-Rio Tinto’s exploitation, without agreement, of a portion of such territory.
“We are not opposed to responsible development so long as the companies seeking to operate on our territory are willing to respect our rights, our Mother Earth and our traditions,” said McKenzie in the release.