Nfld. & Labrador

Innu Nation wants answers from federal candidates on list of concerns ahead of election

The Innu Nation has sent out a list of questions to candidates, and is also expressing concern over promises it says were never fulfilled. 

Innu people want to be at Muskrat Falls negotiating table, says Etienne Rich

Innu Nation Grand Chief Etienne Rich is asking federal candidates to answer a questionnaire ahead of the election. (Regan Burden/CBC)

One of the Newfoundland and Labrador's Indigenous groups is demanding answers from federal election candidates and asking politicians to uphold their rights before heading to the polls on Sept. 20. 

The Innu Nation has sent out a list of questions to candidates and is expressing concern over promises it says were never fulfilled. 

The Innu are specifically worried about a Muskrat Falls impact benefits agreement and the conclusion of a modern treaty. 

The experience that I have been having with thefederal government ever since I became a leader, it doesn't seem to be working out.​- Innu Nation Grand Chief, Etienne Rich

Grand Chief Etienne Rich said Innu leaders have been requesting the financial formula in the wake of July's $5.2-billion rate mitigation announcement.

They've also asked to sit at the negotiating table, according to Rich, but so far have heard nothing back. 

"That information needs to be passed onto us as Innu Nation because that would be really helpful for us … in order to analyze our IBA with Nalcor," the Crown corporation that operates Muskrat Falls, Rich told CBC's Labrador Morning. 

"These are the kind of things we are going to depend on in the future of generations of young people."

The Innu Nation is suing both levels of government and intends to stop the deal "from erasing the benefits promised to Innu Nation by the province, in exchange for allowing the Muskrat Falls project to be built on Innu Nation's lands."

Modern treaty negotiations 

The Innu Nation also wants the next federal government to commit to pursuing recommendations that were set out in the Canadian Human Rights Commission on Aug. 9, including a modern treaty negotiation to resolve Innu land titles, allow for self-governance, and close socioeconomic gaps. 

"The experience that I have been having with the federal government ever since I became a leader, it doesn't seem to be working out," said Rich. 

The list of pointed yes-or-no questions sent from the Innu Nation asks candidates their opinions on the previous government's decisions and what their own stance is on some of the issues.

For example, one of the questions asks, "Will you commit to working closely and meaningfully with the Innu of Labrador, to ensure that their priorities and values are reflected in any action taken?"

Responding on Twitter, Labrador NDP candidate Amy Norman said, "The deal is unacceptable, was done without your consent, goes against Innu self-determination. I condemn the federal and provincial governments. The disregard and disrespect is telling." 

Mary Shortall, NDP candidate for St. John's East, also said she would be sending a full response of the questionnaire to the Innu Nation.

Conservative candidate Shane Dumaresque said on Twitter, "I think it was wrong and completely inexcusable the way the current Liberal government excluded the Innu Nation from the rate mitigation deal. The changes to the New Dawn agreement are unacceptable. I stand with the Innu Nation 100 per cent."

The Innu Nation said it has not yet received answers back from Yvonne Jones, the incumbent Liberal candidate, as well as Shannon Champion, who is running for the People's Party of Canada. 

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Regan Burden