The Innu and Public Land – Journal de Québec promotes Hate and Racism
WENDAKE, QC, March 6 – The Chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL), Ghislain Picard, was extremely shocked to read the newspaper article entitled The RLTP threatened by the Innu, written by Julien Cabana and published in the Journal de Québec, last March 5. “This article is biased, devoid of all objectivity and replete with racist innuendoes about the Innu Nation” stated AFNQL Chief Picard, who is considering lodging a complaint with the Quebec Press Council.The AFNQL is outraged not only by the contents of the news report, but also by the tone and level of disdain for the Innu people and their rights. “After reading this article, I have no doubt that the author has failed to understand Innu rights, that he rejects them and that he totally endorses the positions of the Association of Public Land Tenants (Regroupement des locataires des terres publiques)”, stated Chief Picard. He also explained that the Innu in Sept-Iles have often been victims of insults and of threats from groups that are against a possible treaty between the Government and the Innu.
The Innu and their Rights
Regardless of what Julien Cabana and the RLTP may think, the public lands of the North Shore belong to the Innu Assi. This is the ancestral land of the Innu Nation that has non extinguished title and ancestral rights to this land. This has been reconfirmed by numerous judgments of the Supreme Court of Canada, which has also confirmed the obligation of Governments to negotiate a Treaty or Agreement that will formally recognize the exercise of these rights. Until such a Treaty is adopted, Governments have the obligation to consult and accommodate the Innu regarding any project that may potentially have an impact on their rights and title. “The Innu of Uashat mak Mani-Utenam have rights and title that will inevitably, in the near future, be formally recognized by Governments and Courts. It is therefore completely natural to seek to protect this title and to ensure that it is not negatively impacted. It is a question of justice and of common sense” stated the AFNQL Chief.
The AFNQL also wishes to point out that Quebec media and journalists have an obligation to be objective. Given the tension that often characterizes the relations between the Innu and the Québécois in the Sept-Iles region, journalists must avoid playing the racist and intolerance game. After the recent editorial by Richard Martineau (“What the Phoque!”), the AFNQL has serious concerns about the professionalism of some journalists and believes that it is essential to inform the media about Aboriginal issues in Quebec.
The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador is the regional body that regroups the Chiefs of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador.
For further information: Alain Garon, Communications Officer, AFNQL, (418) 842-5020