Nfld. & Labrador

Protesters shut down Sheshatshiu Innu Nation office

Protesters concerned about how Innu leaders are spending money stopped Grand Chief Joseph Rich from opening the Innu Nation office in Sheshatshiu Monday morning.

Looking for answers about Innu Development Limited Partnership spending

People gathered outside the Innu Nation Office in Sheshatshui, Labrador. ((John Gaudi/CBC))

Protesters concerned about how Innu leaders are spending money stopped Grand Chief Joseph Rich from opening the Innu Nation office in Sheshatshiu Monday morning.

"This thing has been shut down for the past five weeks …It's going to remain shut down until the Innu people get answers," said Helen Andrew, one of the protesters outside the office.

Protests began in July after it was revealed that Innu Development Limited Partnership (IDLP) spent more than $1 million over two years on the salary of former CEO Paul Rich, and gave large bonuses for other Innu leaders who sat on the board of the business.

She said the protesters, who parked trucks in front of the doors of the Innu Nation building Monday, are determined.

"There's money taken from the IDLP and we want answers for that. There's over a million dollars taken. That's why we are here and that why we will be here until we get answers."

Former Natuashish deputy chief Simon Pokue, who was a board member of the IDLP until early July, posted a document online last month, which revealed how much money IDLP can generate.

In 2008, the community of Natuashish received more than $2 million from the IDLP, profits generated from joint partnerships with companies such as Innu Mikun, but the same document revealed that in 2010, Natuashish had to pay more than $600,000 to the company.

According to it’s website, the IDLP represents "the economic interests of the Mushuau and Sheshatshiu Innu communities by creating and managing equity through ownership and partnerships in strategic industries; by creating opportunities for employment and Innu private businesses; and by encouraging the development of Innu economic capacity through training and education."

Documents released in July showed that the leaders of Natuashish and Sheshatshiu were paid $30,000 on top of their regular band chief salaries to sit on the board of the IDLP. Joseph Rich said the protest that began in July is taking a toll on services in the community.

"What I am going to do with my finance for the last five weeks that have been closed here? What I am going to tell service Canada? That your contract is over? You can't come here anymore?," he said.

Rich says they'll move services to the Innu Finance Office in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.