The Innu Round Table met on October 8, 2020 in St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador. The Innu Round Table is a regular trilateral meeting between Labrador Innu representatives and federal and provincial officials, in which the Innu seek to address ongoing difficult issues dealing with programs and services.
Systemic racism is a reality that the Innu experience in many ways, particularly in services delivered by non-Innu providers such as in primary health & hospital services, policing, and child protection. These have often been topics of discussion at the Innu Round Table. On October 6, 2020, Innu Nation leaders launched their claim against Hydro-Québec (see the link here at www.50yearspastdue.ca) claiming restitution for damages to the Innu people, their land and culture caused by the construction 50 years ago of the Upper Churchill dam and massive Smallwood Reservoir. At the end of that press conference, Innu Nation offered their condolences to Joyce’s family and their community. Grand Chief Etienne Rich of Innu Nation told the Innu Round Table on October 8 that the Innu Nation was finally moving forward to address this environmental racism.
The death of Joyce Echaquan in a hospital in Joliette, Québec, who suffered and died experiencing racism directed at her by health care workers, really struck home with the Innu of Labrador.
In her honour, and in their ongoing fight against systemic racism, the Innu joined in seeking Justice for Joyce, invited federal and provincial officials to do the same, and commemorated her and honoured her with an Innu round dance. Click here to view the video from this ceremony.
OKT was at the meeting virtually (respecting the Atlantic bubble rules of course), purple shirt and all. It was a moving tribute. We stand with Indigenous peoples in the daily fight against systemic racism. All too often, this fight is one of life and death.
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