OKT is very honoured to assist the Innu Nation of Labrador to launch a court claim to seek restitution from Hydro-Québec for the damages done to their aboriginal title lands and rights caused by the construction of the Upper Churchill project in Labrador. The hydroelectric project, built 50 years ago, flooded an area of Innu land 1000 square kilometres bigger than Prince Edward Island, now known as the Smallwood Reservoir. It destroyed a large stretch of the longest river in Labrador, Mista-shipu to the Innu, renamed the Churchill River by Premier Joey Smallwood. The Innu had used and occupied this land and the river for thousands of years. They have aboriginal title and rights to this area, which is part of their land claim area for which they are negotiating a modern treaty with Canada and the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The Meshikimau area was a spiritually significant area, and was shared with the caribou that are central to Innu culture, as well as many other animals and plants that the Innu relied on for food and medicine and for their cultural and spiritual practices. Not only did the flooding inundate caribou migration routes and drown beavers and destroy habitat for many other animals. It also destroyed Innu burial sites.
The Innu Nation launched their claim in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador. They are seeking compensation from Hydro Québec for this project, a project that would never have been built without Hydro Quebec’s central role. This project was built on Innu land without any consultation and without any compensation for the damage to their lands, but has provided tens of billions of dollars in profits to the provincial utility of Québec. In 2011, the Innu Nation was able to negotiate an agreement with Nalcor Energy, the provincial utility in Newfoundland and Labrador, the other shareholder in the company that built the project, for the damages done. Nalcor Energy agreed to provide partial compensation for the damage done by this project to Innu land, their rights and their culture. The Innu Nation have now gone to court to seek from Hydro-Québec a fair share of their profits, at least $4 billion.
The press release can be accessed by clicking here.
More information and a copy of the statement of claim can be found at www.50yearspastdue.ca.
Frequently Asked Questions
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