NunatuKavut president Todd Russell speaks at a news conference in Happy Valley-Goose Bay Thursday. (Bailey White/CBC)
They’re not calling it land claims negotiations, but the federal government and the NunatuKavut government announced Thursday in Happy Valley-Goose Bay the beginning of talks on recognizing Indigenous rights and self-determination.
NunatuKavut Community Council president Todd Russell, who was emotional at the announcement, called the day significant.
But the Innu Nation says it was not consulted by the federal government in advance of the announcement and it is not happy,
"Innu Nation calls on the Crown-Indigenous Affairs Minister, Carolyn Bennett for full-disclosure," the Innu Nation, which represents the Innu of Sheshatshui and Natuashish, said Thursday in a media advisory.
"Innu Nation has a 30-year ongoing lands claim with Canada and are concerned what impact this will have on their negotiations," the release said." First statement of claim filed in 1991
Carolyn Bennett, federal indigenous relations minister, and Russell were both present at the announcement of exploratory talks.
"We will be sitting down with a blank sheet of paper," said Bennett, who said the federal government had no mandate going in and priorities would be set by the NunatuKavut people.
"It’s clearly time to sit down and talk."
The council, which was formerly known as the Labrador Métis Nation and represents Inuit and people of Inuit ancestry in southern Labrador, has been working on a land claim agreement for decades and filed its first statement of claim in 1991.
"We are a first people of this land and we have rights on this land," said Russell at the announcement. NunatuKavut, Ottawa set to make ‘historic announcement’ on land claim
Specifics on the discussions were not released but in a joint media advisory, the two governments said they would be community focused and cover a range of issues.
"The goal is to obtain greater clarity on the rights, needs and interests most important to the community as well as finding common ground to move ahead in partnership toward shared solutions that help advance reconciliation and renew the relationship," the advisory read. Carolyn Bennett, federal Crown-Indigenous Affairs Minister, speaks at the announcement of exploratory land claim talks between the federal government and the NunatuKavut council. (Jacob Barker/CBC)
Innu in Labrador have been in land claims negotiations with the government since 1977, their media advisory said, and entered into the Tshsash Petapen agreement with Canada and the Newfoundland and Labrador government in 2011.
Innu Nation will hold a news conference in Happy Valley-Goose Bay Thursday afternoon.
Read more articles at CBC Newfoundland and Labrador With files from Bailey White and Peter Cowan
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