Nitassinan, December 7, 2016 – In the current challenging context of the decline of the George River herd[1], Innu political authorities have expressed unequivocally that they do not approve the actions of Nation members who are looking to benefit from the sale of caribous, whether it is meat, bone, skin, fat or other parts. The Innu Nation disapproves of all attempts to commercialize caribou (Atik).

The Chiefs of the Innu Nation and all elected council officials want to remind their members of the importance of remembering the rules and practices of respect for Atik. In this spirit, the Chiefs reaffirm the following founding principles[2]:

  • Let us respect and collectively share Atik for subsistence purposes and food sovereignty;
  • Let us respect the links that other First Nations and Inuit have with Atik;
  • Let us continue our relationship and our millennial relationship with Atik;
  • Let us continue, practice and transmit our Innu knowledge;
  • Let us make our tools and clothing in connection with Atik;
  • Let us preserve our spiritual connection with Atik.

The occupation of the territory is dictated by rules and practices inherited from previous generations. It is upon this cultural heritage that our relationship with Atik is based. Atik belongs to the Master of the caribou (Papakasiu). It is declining in Mushuau-nipi, (George River) but is in better condition in Cree and Inuit territory (James Bay). In this context, Innu Chiefs invite members of the Innu Nation to respect the ties that other First Nations and Inuit have with Atik, but also to perpetuate our traditions with honor and respect for Atik.

For these reasons, the Innu Chiefs seek through diplomatic channels with the Cree and Inuit Nation-to-Nation political solutions in order to have access to the resource for social and cultural purposes while respecting the framework of the work of the Ungava Peninsula Caribou Aboriginal Round Table (UPCART).

Let us recall that one of the main issues raised by all UPCART partners is the leadership of each of the Aboriginal authorities to exercise and implement their own responsibility to respect Atik (caribou) and, above all, to make sure that a spiritual link is preserved between Atik and the various indigenous groups; the ultimate objective being to ensure the survival of the species.

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For information: Chief Mike Mckenzie (Uashat mak Mani-utenam), Chief Denis Mestenapéo (Pakua Shipi), Chief Rodrigue Wapistan (Nutashkuan), Chief Jean-Charles Piétacho (Ekuanitshit), Chief René Simon (Pessamit), Chief Gilbert Dominique (Mashteuiatsh), Chief Martin Dufour (Essipit) and Chief Alain Lalo (Unamen Shipu).


 

Statement by the Innu Nation to Atik

 December 2, 2016

The Innu Nation[3] occupies a large portion of the southern part of the Quebec Labrador Peninsula. The Innu Nation gave this territory the name of Nitassinan. The Innu have survived since time immemorial in connection with Nitassinan and its animals, including Atiku.

The Innu Nation has lived for thousands of years on this territory and its resources. The use and occupation of  Nitassinan define our living space and our traditional and current environment.

Our occupation of the territory is dictated by rules and practices inherited from previous generations. It is upon this cultural heritage that our relationship with Atik is based. Atik belongs to the Master of the caribou (Papakasiu). The caribou is declining in Mushuau-nipi (George River) but is in better condition in Cree and Inuit territory (James Bay). We must respect the ties that the other First Nations and the Inuit have with Atik. We, Innus, are responsible for a lasting coexistence with him.

We hope that the present situation of the decline of the George River herd will not occur in the future to our Cree and Inuit brothers and sisters. If, on the other hand, it should ever happen – that the flock of the Leaf River is in decline and that of the George River is recovering – then the Innu Nation would be there to help and collaborate with the other First Nations and Inuit. It is in this spirit and this reality that the Declaration must be read.

For more than 500 years, and more than ever, this relationship with Nitassinan and its resources has been greatly altered by cohabitation with the Kaikusseht. It is therefore essential to establish a new relationship based on trust in order to do everything possible to protect our relationship and our responsibility towards Atik.

So that everyone can remember these rules and practices, we propose the following founding principles[4]:

  • Let us respect and collectively share Atik for subsistence purposes and food sovereignty;
  • Let us respect the links that other First Nations and Inuit have with Atik;
  • Let us continue our relationship and our millennial relationship with Atik;
  • Let us continue, practice and transmit our Innu knowledge;
  • We make our tools and clothing in connection with Atik;
  • Let us preserve our spirituality in connection with Atik.

Finally, we, Innus, cannot, on no account, market or sell Atik (whether meat, bone, skin, fat or other parts …) and the Innu Nation disapproves of all attempts to Its marketing.

 

We have an obligation and a duty to do so.

This is our collective responsibility as a nation.

We must have confidence in ourselves to pursue the affirmation and implementation of this Statement.


[1] Despite global concerns about the decline of the caribou around the world, it is up to us, First Nations and Inuit in connection with Atik, to give the caribou its nobility by protecting it in this worrying cycle of decline.

[2] We invite you to read – joined to this press release – the Statement of Innu Nation about Atik. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples remains a reference document related to this statement.

[3] The Innu Nation is composed of eleven communities, including nine in Quebec and two in Labrador.

[4] The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples remains a reference document related to this Statement.