Quebec wildlife officers seize caribou intended as gift to Innu Nation

Several people, including Innu Nation Grand Chief Gregory Rich, were bringing a harvested caribou from Quebec to Labrador on Tuesday when the officers seized the caribou and fined them, according to a release from the Innu First Nation.

Grand chief among Innu fined after attempting to bring harvested caribou from Quebec to Labrador

The Innu Nation says Grand Chief Gregory Rich, pictured here, was among a group of Innu who had a caribou seized by wildlife officials in Quebec, even though a Cree Nation had given the caribou to them as a gift. (Bailey White/CBC)

Wildlife officials in Quebec have seized a caribou that was intended to be given as a gift between Indigenous governments in Quebec and Labrador, the Innu Nation says.

Several people — including Innu Nation Grand Chief Gregory Rich — were bringing a harvested caribou from Quebec to Labrador on Tuesday afternoon when the officers seized the caribou and fined them, according to a news release from the Innu Nation. 

The harvested caribou was given to the Innu Nation of Labrador as a gift, but wildlife officers did not accept that and seized it, the Innu Nation says. (Submitted by Innu Nation )
It happened in Oujé-Bougoumou, Que., a Cree community about 300 kilometres northwest of Saguenay.

The caribou belonged to the Leaf River herd, a population that has declined nearly 70 per cent over the last 20 years, according to Quebec's Forestry Ministry. Several First Nations and Inuit groups have taken steps to protect and preserve the herd

The Innu Nation's news release says Rich carried a letter from Chief Davey Bobbish from the Chisasibi Cree First Nation, declaring the caribou as a gift to the Innu Nation and supporting them in taking the caribou to Labrador.

But the wildlife officers did not accept the letter as valid, seizing the caribou, according to the release.

"The practice of historical sharing between the Cree and the Innu of what is now Labrador goes back to long before the assertion of sovereignty by the Crown," Rich said in the release, who called the actions "colonial."  

CBC News contacted wildlife authorities in Quebec for comment on this story, but had not yet received a response Tuesday evening.

A spokesperson for Rich said he was travelling and unavailable for an interview Tuesday, but he would be speaking with CBC's Labrador Morning radio show Wednesday morning.

The Innu Nation formally represents about 2,200 Innu people living in Labrador, most of whom live in the communities of Sheshatshiu and Natuashish.