Canada

Warm house, running water a change for Natuashish Innu

Some Innu wake to new lifestyle in Natuashish after moving from Davis Inlet

About 20 Innu families in Northern Labrador woke up on Sunday morning with a very different lifestyle, having migrated from Davis Inlet to the new community at Natuashish.

Innu such as Sam Pijogge aren't used to getting out of bed in a warm house heated by a furnace, and being able to turn on a tap to put on a pot of coffee.

"I never ever had that before," he said.

None of the Innu of Davis Inlet had any of that. For 30 years they've lived in squalid conditions in wooden shacks with no running water.

Finally, after years of social problems including gasoline sniffing and drug and alcohol abuse, they have a chance to make a fresh start.

The federal government has spent $152 million over the past five years to carve out a new community in the bush and to build and furnish modern split-level bungalows for the Innu to live in.

After construction delays, some families began to move on Saturday. More will leave Sunday, and all of the 680 Davis Inlet residents hope to be in their new homes by spring.

The federal government wants to raze the old settlement once everyone is out.

But some, such as Angela Rich, an elder who grew up while the Innu were still a nomadic people surviving on the land, wants to use her old shack as a cabin retreat.

While the community is split between the two settlements, Rich is afraid those left behind will trash some of the newly empty houses.

The RCMP aren't reporting any recent acts of vandalism in Davis Inlet. The Mounties are on duty in both locations until the move is complete.