Innu Nation challenges agreement between Ottawa, NunatuKavut Community Council
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The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, October 8, 2019 6:37PM EDT
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. -- The Innu Nation is taking legal action against a memorandum of understanding between Canada and the NunatuKavut Community Council, arguing it will harm the Nation's constitutional land rights in Labrador.
The agreement setting guidelines for self-determination talks between the two governments was signed on Sept. 5.
Formed as the Labrador Metis Association in the early 1980s, the NunatuKavut Community Council describes itself as representing approximately 6,000 Inuit people in southern and central Labrador.
In a statement issued Tuesday, the Innu Nation -- which represents approximately 2,200 Innu people, most of them in Labrador -- says it has applied to the Federal Court to cancel the memorandum of understanding.
The Innu Nation claims says the deal could affect or delay its own claim in Labrador, which has not been finalized.
It also argues the Council has claimed lands that overlap with the Innu land claim area, that Canada did not do its due diligence before signing the agreement and that NunatuKavut does not fit the criteria of a political organization "capable of holding Aboriginal rights" under the Constitution.
NunatuKavut Community Council President Todd Russell responded to the Innu claim in a statement Tuesday, condemning it as "inflammatory and misleading."
Russell said there's bound to be overlap between the two land claims, and that could be an opportunity for co-operation rather than division.