From Davis Inlet to Natuashish: A new beginning
"We are a lost people." That description by an Innu chief seemed fitting when a shocking video of six gas-sniffing teens, screaming they wanted to die, was broadcast to the world. The once-nomadic Innu of Labrador have struggled under a haze of isolation, poverty and addiction ever since their 1967 settlement. A second relocation, this time from the shantytown of Davis Inlet to the new community of Natuashish, offered much promise, but it was just the beginning of a long healing process.
Built from the ground up at a cost of $152 million (later the figure would balloon to $200 million), the new community, when completed, will have an airstrip, community wharf, roads, 133 houses, a school, store, community police station, health centre, band council office and water-treatment and diesel-fired electrical generation plants. But, more important for the 150 Innu families, they will finally have houses with running water, electricity and heat. Turning the faucet on and off, Rich's elderly mother says she can't believe she has lived long enough to see her son in such a nice home.
. The 133 homes in Natuashish were furnished with beds, dressers, nightstands, sofas, kitchen tables and appliances including a washer and dryer and a freezer.
. Out of a dozen designs offered, the Innu chose standard clapboard houses with full basements. Each house was about 1,300 square feet and contained a combination oil-and-wood furnace. Residents chose from seven different models and six exterior colours. Green was the most popular house colour, followed by blue and then beige. The average cost for a home in Natuashish was $150,000.
. The new location was chosen by the elders of the community for its good soil and proximity to traditional hunting grounds and for having room to grow.
. The community of Natuashish was the result of a long series of negotiations. The Innu had signed an $85-million Mushuau Innu Relocation Agreement with the federal government in November 1996. The amount was later increased to $113 million.
. Ottawa agreed to move the community of Davis Inlet westward to Sango Bay, or Natuashish in the Innu language.
Natuashish means "a break in the river."
. The Mushuau Innu Relocation Agreement was funded by the federal and provincial governments and signed by Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development Ron Irwin, Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Brian Tobin, and Innu Chief Katie Rich.
Program: Here & Now
Broadcast Date: Dec. 16, 2002
Reporter: Tony Dawson
Last updated: March 26, 2012
Page consulted on December 6, 2013
All Clips from this Topic
Six unattended children burn to death in the tiny Innu community of Da...
Addictions counsellor Bill Partridge describes finding the six comatos...
Haunting images of gas-sniffing Innu children shock the world.
An anthropologist who lived among the Innu on their misguided relocati...
Former chief of Davis Inlet Katie Rich says Innu have themselves to bl...
A damning report describes the plight of Canada's Innu as beyond hope.
Harmonica player Mike Stevens on playing for the gas-sniffing Innu chi...
The Innu children use solvents to escape their hopeless reality.
Excited Innu families begin their move to Natuashish.
A year after the move, the Innu community of Natuashish falls into a f...
A construction worker in Natuashish describes the extent of the damage...
Three Innu women attempt to make a difference in their troubled commun...
A report paints a bleak picture for the Innu children of Labrador.
A depressingly similar story reemerges on the streets of Natuashish.
"We are a lost people." That description by an Innu chief seemed fitti...