Quebec wildlife officials say Labrador Innu had no rights to seized caribou

The meat was said to be a gift from the Cree nation of Chisasibi to the Labrador Innu, but it was seized by Quebec authorities.

Meat Chisasibi Cree say they gifted Labrador Innu was seized by authorities last week

The Leaf River caribou herd has been declining in recent years. (Submitted by Luc Gervais)

Wildlife officials from Quebec say the Labrador Innu had no rights to the caribou meat officers seized from Innu Nation Grand Chief Gregory Rich and a few companions last week.

The meat, which Rich said was given to him as a gift on behalf of the Chisasibi Cree First Nation, was seized in Oujé-Bougoumou, Que., a Cree community about 300 kilometres northwest of Saguenay.

The meat came from the Leaf River caribou herd, which has been declining in size.

Gregory Rich is the Innu Nation's Grand Chief. (Bailey White/CBC)

Rich said the Cree nation has permission to hunt the Leaf River caribou and that he had a letter from Chief Davey Bobbish supporting the Innu Nation in taking the caribou to Labrador.

Still, wildlife officers told him it was illegal to hunt caribou in Cree territory or to be in possession of the caribou meat, he said.

According to a statement issued by Quebec's wildlife ministry on Monday, the area in question falls under the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, which protects the hunting rights of the Cree, Inuit and Naskapi beneficiaries.

The Labrador Innu Nation is not a beneficiary in the region, the statement said, and so they must comply with Quebec's hunting regulations.

An investigation into the incident is underway, according to Quebec officials.

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