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Statement by AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo on Innu Rights to Ancestral Caribou Hunting

by NationTalk on February 24, 20101462 Views

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OTTAWA, Feb. 24 – Today, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo offered the following statement regarding the Innu communities who are exercising their Indigenous right to hunt on the Nitassinan, the Innu ancestral lands spread over parts of Québec and Labrador.”Taking food away from a family is a serious infringement on our rights. Indigenous peoples are, and always have been, an integral part of this ecosystem. The Innu did not cause the reduction of the Labrador caribou herd, rather it’s a result of development, resource extraction, the DEW line and other man made factors. Forcing our people away from wild foods amounts to a subsidy for private commercial food retailers and furthermore results in devastating health and social problems as well as loss of language and culture.

Both levels of government must work with First Nations governments to restrict activities of industry and the military. First Nations, provincial and federal governments must fully respect the Indigenous and human rights at stake and work together to achieve sustainable solutions. Indigenous rights to this land and to hunting are inherent rights enshrined in Canada’s Constitution.

We must work together to develop a respectful approach which upholds the principles of proper consultation, accommodation and consent. These principles are clearly articulated in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It is time that we all embrace the Declaration and act on its principles.”

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, passed by the UN Assembly in 2007, recognizes minimal standards of human rights of Indigenous Peoples. Article 26 of the Declaration states that: “Indigenous peoples have the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired.” Article 27 of the Declaration stipulates that: “States shall establish and implement, in conjunction with indigenous peoples concerned, a fair, independent, impartial, open and transparent process, giving due recognition to indigenous peoples’ laws, traditions, customs and land tenure systems.”

Last Saturday approximately 150 hunters of the five communities of the Innu Strategic Alliance began exercising their inherent right to hunt for food for their families on the Nitassinan, the Innu ancestral lands spread over parts of Québec and Labrador, in accordance with their rights, traditions and inherent laws as Innu.

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.

For further information: Jenna Young, Communications Officer at (613) 314-8157 or jyoung[at]afn.ca

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