Labrador mourns loss of Joseph Riche

Labrador is mourning the loss of Joseph Riche, who was a prominent Innu leader and former Innu Nation Grand Chief.
The Innu community in Labrador is mourning the loss of Joseph Riche.

Labrador is mourning the loss of Joseph Riche, a former grand chief of the Innu Nation.

Riche died after his canoe capsized on a lake southeast of Happy Valley-Goose Bay on Wednesday night.

Friend Edward Nuna said Riche cared a lot about his community.

"He really had a good heart, I think, in helping people — young people," Nuna said. "And also he had an excellent relationship with the elders, working as a chief negotiator."

Riche was the grand chief of the Innu Nation when the New Dawn land claims agreement was signed. It brought compensation to the Innu for the Upper Churchill project, and also cleared the way for other developments in Labrador.

Florence Melley worked with Riche on the band council.

"I think we need to work together really closely now, because our community is going to be grieving for a long time," Melley said. "He's leaving behind something — like, he left so quickly, at a very young age, and now it's our turn to finish what he has left us.

"He was just an amazing man — so amazing."

The funeral will be held Saturday at 3 p.m. in Sheshatshiu.