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Feuding Labrador Indigenous groups -- one recognized, one not -- celebrate court ruling

The Innu Nation Main Office is seen in Sheshatshiu, N.L., on May 10, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sarah Smellie The Innu Nation Main Office is seen in Sheshatshiu, N.L., on May 10, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sarah Smellie
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ST. JOHN'S, N.L -

A Federal Court judge has dismissed a bid by Labrador's Innu Nation to throw out an agreement involving the NunatuKavut Community Council, but both groups claim the ruling is a win.

The Innu Nation had asked a judge to quash a 2019 agreement between the federal government and the NunatuKavut council because the nation said the deal recognized the council as Indigenous and as a holder of Indigenous rights.

Neither the Innu Nation, which represents two Innu communities in central and northern Labrador, nor the Inuit Nunatsiavut Government in northern Labrador recognize the NunatuKavut council's claims of being Inuit.

Judge Cecily Y. Strickland said in a ruling Wednesday the agreement neither recognizes the NunatuKavut council as an Indigenous group nor affords them Indigenous rights.

In a new release, the Innu Nation confirms that the NunatuKavut council has never been recognized as an Indigenous group, and that it does not have any rights as such under the Canadian Constitution.

However, NunatuKavut president Todd Russell told reporters the ruling is an "unequivocal win" upholding the council's agreement with Canada "and our recognition of Indigenous rights and self-determination."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 13, 2024.

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