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Natuashish: Struggling with the hangovers of old Davis Inlet

The Story

Despite all levels of governments pumping millions of dollars into the new community of Natuashish under the Labrador Innu Comprehensive Healing Strategy, the plight of the Innu remains bleak. A report on the healing strategy, obtained by the CBC under the Access to Information Act, shows virtually no progress has been made in programs and services. The report reveals that problems ranging from alcohol and drug abuse, neglect, violence and school truancy are getting worse. "We are an industry... our children and our people are an industry," says band council chief Simon Pokue. "Everyone makes money off of us. Off our misery. Sometimes I feel they [the government] don't want us to get well." 

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Feb. 8, 2005
Reporter: Peter Gullage
Duration: 18:36

Did You know?

• Kathleen Benuen, director of the Health Commission, says substance abuse dipped in the immediate period after the move to Natuashish. "But people started doing drugs and alcohol again because the happiness they felt sort of went away. So they're back to their old ways." -- from Reuters News Feb. 9, 2005

• In June 2001, the federal government established the Labrador Innu Comprehensive Healing Strategy, aimed at stabilizing health, creating safe communities and helping the Innu build a better future.

• The Canadian government has spent about $350 million -- or $400,000 for every man, woman and child in the community -- in the past decade in an attempt to help the Labrador Innu. With so much federal money flowing into Natuashish, residents say alcohol and drugs have become even more plentiful.

• There is no liquor store in Natuashish but there are plenty of bootleggers who charge about $300 for a 40-ounce bottle of liquor. During the holiday season, the same bottle can fetch up to $800. Members of the ruling band council have been accused of bootlegging.

• The CBC News investigation also found serious flaws with the healing program including:
- warnings that abused children were in danger
- too few social workers available
- a lack of treatment facility for addictions
- no safehouse for abused women and children.

• A report by an Ottawa-based consulting company warned that if the healing strategy does not change, it will fail.


Davis Inlet: Innu Community in Crisis more