Innu Declaration

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DECLARATION ON THE EFFECTIVE EXERCISE OF THE RIGHT TO SELF-DETERMINATION OF THE INNU IN NITASSINAN

by the Gilbert Pilot family

National liberation is a phenomenon by which a socio-economic entity rejects any negation of its historic path. In other words, the national liberation of a People is the conquest of the historic personality of this People and its return to its roots in spite of the destruction by imperial domination.
Amilar Cabal
Guine Bissau

INTRODUCTION

The Innu People occupy and live in a land called NITASSINAN which the
colonizers named Quebec and Labrador. We have occupied this land for
several thousand years, 9000, according to archeological studies.

The Innu People, in their tradition and ideas of space have never made
artificial borders like the colonizers. In other words, our People have used
geographical limits such as rivers, lakes, mountains, etc.

Moreover, the Innu People see borders through natural laws, for example
migrating at hunting time to follow the caribou. Besides, around the caribou
hunt there is an economic, cultural and social dependence deeply related to
the spiritual.

This relationship and interdependence is a gift of self, a mutual fulfillment
which is expressed in food, clothing, the making of tools and the drum which
unites the Innu and the spirit of the animal.

In this manner we form an integral part with all forms of life in an never-
ending cycle.

The GREAT SPIRIT, RTSHISHE MANITOUS, wanted it to be like this and it is from
this Spirit we come from in so much as we are Innu (human being) and placed
in Nitassinan (our land)

This to perpetuate life and the spiritual
relationship so essential to our survival.

There has always existed a social and government structure of which the
family is the core. An individual within the family plays in important role,
responsible to his family and to the collectivity.

The nomadic way of life, in constant dependence on the land and aquatic
migration, has led our people to adapt to all circumstances and to acquire
knowledge and capacities beyond the normal.

The Caribou and the Salmon are vital elements in Innu life.

The individual is hunter, fisherman, builder, geologist, astronomer, cook, mid-
wife, spiritual guide, philosopher, archeologist, geographer, toponamist,
...according to the needs and circumstances.

The humility by which the Innu have evolved has enable them to practice a
well thought out and controlled exploitation in NITASSINAN.

The Innu have an innate respect for the things around them such as the
different forms of life and the sense of sharing.

The colonizers, in a dishonest and abusive manner, have contributed to the
placing our survival in danger and the loss of the sense of sharing.

Our love and our sense of belonging to MOTHER EARTH has been such that we
have never altered her Body and Soul.

Our People, the first occupants of NITASSINAN, is characterized by members
who are linked by language, a common heritage, traditions and a spiritual life
which make up its national identity.

Our People comprises of a population living in a well-defined territory called
NITASSINAN where they have maintained sovereignty for thousands of years
and who have never abandoned their rights, responsibilities, laws and
obligations towards NITASSINAN.

Our People, in fact, can establish equal relations with other People.

In NITASSINAN our People have the right to exercise their sovereign power in
determining and applying, in complete freedom their laws, their rights and
responsibilities based on fundamental and traditional values.

Having public sovereignty over NITASSINAN we intend to affirm our full and
entire jurisdiction which extends to renewable and on-renewable resources
on land and below ground which comprises our territory.

COLONIZATION CONTINUES

NITASSINAN has been subject to real colonial incursion due to the discovery of
natural resources. Mines, forests and hydro-electricity are going to be the
object of an uncontrollable greed by the colonizers in the decades to come.

A process will start which will accelerate the confinement of entire Innu
populations to reserves for the purposes of making them sedentary.

All political, administrative and religious institutions will contribute to
dispossess, expropriate, denationalize and dehumanize an entire People.

We have been taken from our parents and placed by force into residential
schools at the mercy of other values and another way of life. These will be
followed by well-planned policies bent on assimilating us, supported by
programs and public services (education, health, social services, housing...)
and economic development.

These government actions will lead to our dependence on them. Also, it will
break down the heart of our society, the family, and will create social
problems such as drugs, alcohol, family violence, suicide, a high death rate
and medical problems which will pass the national average in several regards.

In this direction towards hell, the governments of Canada and Quebec-
Labrador will favor the industrialization of NITASSINAN without ever
consulting or still more without obtaining the consent of the main people
concerned, the INNU.

The industrial era will effect the INNU in a critical way. At this moment they
are confronted by Western values based on the accumulation of goods and
capital. This is difficult to understand for a People who have been
characterized by a Spirit of sharing and community.

Unfortunately, some INNU are content to adopt these values such as private
property, gain and a thirst for power.

This is Western society where a small elite possesses a big part of the wealth,
thereby controlling the human tribe.

Moreover, the political and judiciary serve these values and this elite. These
lead to dehumanized automanization, and leaving aside values and fundamental
human rights.

Native people, in particular the INNU, are going to be affected by this human
degradation to a critical degree.

In between dependence and subjection, my family and myself have chosen
affirmation and liberation.

In this way, we intend to sensitize those people who have a tendency to
dominate, to adopt a way which is proper to man: human activities which
measure up to the fundamental needs of man and not to the service of
technology and the greed of a few.

The decline of the industrial area, economic and monetary uncertainty, the
depletion of non-renewable natural resources, the globalization of markets
vis-a-vis the environment are so many indications which make one believe
that Western values are not any more the values on which societies seem to
want to adhere to.

So many energies, spent abusively, leads to a precarious model of development
which is supposed to create a superior quality of life.

However, humanity would have interest to make this turn towards its own
survival. Depollution, recycling, recuperation, alternate energy, eco-
development, healthy agricultural activity as well as other measures are the
keys towards the gradual turn towards world equilibrium.

Also, the world is showing signs of fatigue. Think only of the increase in
active natural phenomenon on the earth: floods, earthquakes, volcanic
activity, climatic changes, the greenhouse effect, the ozone layer, etc......
These are signs which point towards the worst if humanity does not take the
means to remedy a critical situation.

However, obstacles persist... Military and political power being the useless
remains of economic power.

Just the same, we have the hope that humanity will be able to discern the true
choices that will have to be made.

We have made our choice. From a small community called Mani-Utenam we
have undergone a struggle where a people are faced with a choice: adopt a
model of development or return to a Spirit of fundamental values.

Today my family denounces:

-- The politics, behavior and reprehensible gestures which are an
injustice and prejudice to our integrity as members of the INNU People.

-- The Canadian Constitution which has never wanted to make more precise
the collective rights of the INNU People.

-- The validity of a constitution which has never consented to re-establish the
fundamental rights of the INNU in contravention to the present International
Law now in effect which Canada wanted to join.

-- The domestic laws which go against the spirit and letter of the international
agreements and pacts such as the "Indian Act" and provide for general
application without being specific in regards to the INNU

-- The Supreme Court which has never bothered to deal with the basis for
Native collective rights. Rather, they are pushed to the sterile, illegal
negotiating table.

-- The shameful political manipulation of Canadian and Quebec institutions
which favour a dominating attitude in regards to Native People, in particular
the INNU.

-- The contempt for our fundamental rights as a people and the denial of our
rights to auto-determination.

-- The criminalization of our legitimate struggle for the national liberation
of our People and NITASSINAN by the imposition of an injunction, effective for
30 years, on the members of the Coalition for NITASSINAN. This group consists
of traditional INNU

Already there have been 8 prison sentences and there
will be 84 more. During the hearing for these cases, the accused INNU handled
their own defense in their language without the help of lawyers. They did this
because they lacked money and because they were to be judged in a biased
manner given that the vast majority of the population in the region is opposed
to their position.

-- The use of public funds which are supposed to be used for the well being of
members of the Maliotenam community for the purposes of repression by the
Band Council of Uashat (Sept Iles). Reprisals, threats and intimidation are
directed towards the opponents of a totalitarian regime and the hydro-electric
power project (Sm-lll).

-- An individual fired a large caliber gun shot at our house in October, l992.

--. Death threats have been made to me (Gilbert Pilot). The Quebec Police Force
received the call in December, 1991. in Sept-Iles.

-- Three hundred white people (non-native) invaded Maliotenam on January
17, 1993 to expel by force two Japanese Buddhists, some Americans, other
Japanese citizens and a Montrealer who had come on a peace march
supporting the INNU who are opposed to SM-lll. (The former were never tried
before the courts for this action.) This is a flagrant demonstration of
injustice because these same white people who had blocked a provincial road
(=138) (June, 1993) were also never tried before the courts. When the INNU
(Coalition for NITASSINAN) showed opposition by peaceful action, they are
imposed with injunctions and imprisonments. The free expression of the right
to association and the right to demonstrate are undermined...

--The Quebec Human Rights Commission, as a result of an historic meeting
with the INNU NATION in August, 1990, published a report in which analysis
and commentary concerning the collective rights of our People were taken
out, in particular the part on auto-determination. This action shows the lack
of goodwill on the part of Quebec institutions when treating the INNU question
and in general the Native question. No Quebec institution is ready to favour
the establishment of the legitimate rights of the INNU. The spirit of
colonization is maintained.

--Hydro-Quebec, a state corporation of Quebec, is going ahead with its Ste.
Marguerite River project (SM-11) on Quebec's North Shore (NITASSINAN).
However, the office for public hearings (BAPE), following public
consultations, expressed reserve and recommended to the government of
Quebec not to authorize the project as presented by Hydro-Quebec. This
report shows that the Coalition for NITASSINAN was right. It was a victory
for this group except that the reaction of the non-Native population was quick
and strong. The latter organized a demonstration near the SM-11 dam in
which they buried a copy of the BAPE report, using heavy machinery. The
Energy Minister, Mme. Lise Bacon, declared with great flair that the
government will favour economic benefits and jobs that will be created. The
INNU and the environment are relegated to the sidelines. Intolerance and
racism again come to the surface.

--The signed agreement by the Band Council of Uashat (Sept-Iles) with the
Ministry of Public Security of Quebec concerning police services, gives police
responsibility to Quebec. In other words, it replaces the Native Police with a
new police force under the responsibility of the Quebec Police Force. The INNU
population never consented to this. They saw this as a way of increasing
Quebec control in the daily life of the INNU. A petition was sent to the
Minister of Public Security to show our opposition but it was never considered.

There exists a collusion between the Band Council and Quebec

aiming to squash all forms of opposition to an oppressive regime

and to SM-11, thereby affecting the national integrity of the INNU

and their territory.

So these are the major reasons for which my family has adopted such a radical
opposition and to declare the following statement:

Considering my family as a cell within the INNU Nation and having
responsibility towards our People and NITASSINAN,

Considering the natural laws which have come from the Creator as the only
laws which can govern our lives,

Considering the importance of assuming our responsibilities without outside
interference,

And referring to modern international law now in practice and invoking
more particularly to:

--Article II b) and d) of the International Convention on the abolition and
condemnation of the crime of apartheid;

--.the Universal Declaration on Human Rights;

--.the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural rights:

--.The Teheran Proclamation;

--.the United Nations Declaration on the elimination of all forms racial
discrimination;.

--The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide;

--.the Declaration on Development and Social Programs;

--.The Declaration on the Utilization of Scientific and Technological Progress
for Peace and Humanity;

--the Declaration of Principles on International Cultural Cooperation

--.and in particular, the Declaration on the Access to the Independence of
Peoples and Colonized countries.

DECLARATION

We, the undersigned, Mr. Gilbert Pilot, my partner, Mme. Vivian Michel and
our children, Shipiss (12 years), Pinashue (5 years), Penute (2 years) and
Uashtessiu (1 year) for whom we are speaking, declare and proclaim our right
to auto-determination and also our independence in regards to the Canadian,
Quebec and Labrador governments.

We reclaim our national INNU identity and thus all our national rights:

--. The right to existence;

--.The right to determine without outside constraint, our political status;

--.The right to exercise in complete freedom, our economic, social and cultural
activities in accordance with the principles governed by our traditional
values;

--.The right to circulate freely on our land;

--.The governments must commit itself not to exercise any pressure which
would impede the development of our family conforming thus to the spirit and
letter of the different Declarations, Conventions and International Pacts now
in effect;

--The right to maintain our privileged and spiritual relationship with
NITASSINAN

--.The right to be treated equally with other nations in mutual respect.
This is essential to the advancement of peace and international cooperation.

We ask the International Community to recognize our INNU nationality and
all references to that effect.

We ask for an effective protection from the International Community for my
family while we are working for our rights for auto-determination.

We ask the International Community to recognize the necessity of our family
to establish a new concept to development based on an harmonious
development of NITASSINAN

We opt for more human activity in the area of
development where eco-tourism is preferred.

We ask the International Community for financial and technical support in
elaborating and implementing our idea of development.

In order to make effective, the exercise of our Right to auto-determination my
family, in a common decision, have decided to:

--.renounce all the advantages and privileges coming from the Canadian and
Quebec governments whether it is monetary or material:

--.renounce our "Indian" status which the Indian Act, a discriminatory law
which has no other purpose than to assimilate us and take away our national
identity.

Thus we renounce our dependence on government and their institutions
which has been imposed in a concerted way.

We proclaim our economic and political independence and intend to exercise
our Right to political, social, economic and cultural auto-determination in
complete freedom in NITASSINAN.

We sign this on the 29th day of September, 1992, in Maliotenam.

Gilbert Pilot
Vivian Michel
Shipiss Michel, child
Pinashue Pilot, child
Penute Pilot, child
Uashtessiu Pilot, child

Sylvestre Rock , Witness

Translation from French to English: Gerry Pascal



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