Canada moves to recognize NunatuKavut in southern Labrador

Canada moves to recognize NunatuKavut in southern Labrador

HAPPY VALLEY-GOOSE BAY, N.L. — The NunatuKavut community in southern Labrador is entering into historic talks with the Canadian government, as Ottawa moves to formally recognize an Indigenous group that speaks for those with Inuit ancestry.

But the announcement Thursday was panned by the neighbouring Innu Nation, whose leaders expressed concern that the negotiations would set back the Innu’s own negotiations with Canada.

Todd Russell, president of the NunatuKavut Community Council, and Carolyn Bennett, the federal minister responsible for Crown-Indigenous relations, announced the start of formal discussions around Indigenous rights and self-determination.

An emotional Russell addressed community members and politicians in central Labrador, saying the recognition of NunatuKavut rights is the most significant announcement from the Crown since the British-Inuit Treaty was signed in 1765.

“Our land and rights have not been respected for many years, but today is a new beginning,” he said.

“It means that we will give expression to the way we want to govern in our own land, something we have been fighting for for many, many years.”

The NunatuKavut Community Council represents about 6,000 people in southern Labrador.

It has been trying to negotiate a land claim with Ottawa for decades.

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