Mushuau Innu Relocation Agreement

5:12 min. – „They call us „mushuaunnu“ because we lived on arid soil. The missionaries, determined to keep adults and children in one place, insisted on us settling here [village of Utshimassit]. This village no longer exists today. A new one, Natuashish, was built on the mainland.¬†Nympha Byrne, Utshimassit Innu. On the Labrador Atlantic coast, 300 km north of the town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Natuashish is accessible only by plane or boat. The village of Natuashish, founded in 2002, is therefore the youngest of all Innu communities It is located about 15 km from the ancient site of Utshimassit (Davis Inlet), abandoned in the early 2000s due to its unfavorable situation on an island. The new municipality, whose name means „small lake,“ allows much easier access to hunting and fishing grounds in the interior of the country. DEMOGRAPHY Number of people inside the commune: 809 Number of people outside the commune: 1901 Total: 2710 Location: 295 km north of Goose Gay and 80 km southeast of Nain On 11 December 2003, the new municipality of Natuashish was built as a reserve ground for the Mushuau Innu First Nations. The municipality of Natuashish was built from previously unded land under the Mushuau Innu Relocation Agreement (MIRA). The Mushuau Innu of Davis Inlet moved to Natuashish.

The establishment of reserves in Natuashish, as well as the transfer of the Mushuau Innu, are part of a long-term strategy to address the social challenges of the community. The Mushuau Innu chose the Natuashish site, located within their traditional territory, with the agreement of Canada and the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1996. There are no neighbouring communities. The nearest municipalities are Davis Inlet, which is decommissioned as part of the Mushuau Innu Relocation Agreement, and the coastal commune of Hopedale. The area of Natuashish, designated as a reserve area, is approximately 4265,486 hectares, which includes approximately 1,582 hectares of water for the wharf land and a water field for the 0.252-hectare inland navigation vessel. The federal crown has the legal right to reserve land. InDund and Northern Affairs Canada manages, controls and manages reserve lands for the First Nation on behalf of the Crown. In the future, Mushuau Innu First Nation may assume responsibility for managing certain aspects of the reserve country if they choose to do so. Within the reserve, the First Nation may decide to designate land for leasing purposes. The rental of reserve space is generally used for economic development projects for group or non-band members. The term lease provides the First Nation with greater flexibility to adapt land use to the needs of the municipality, maintains a long-term interest in the campaign and provides the band with income in the form of fair value rents. Names must be promised by the members of the group by referendum.

In Natuashish, some lands will be closed by the Indian Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, with the agreement of the Mushuau Innu First Nation Band Council, for specific non-commercial purposes that enhance the general well-being of the First Nation. The land for the school and the health centre would be an example. If, in the future, the Mushuau First Nation wants to give up the full interest in a piece of land, it would be an absolute capitulation to the Crown. This type of capitulation could occur if the First Nation wants to trade one piece of land for another. Lands that have been abandoned in absolute terms are no longer part of the reserve. With the creation of the reserve, the Indian Act gave the Council the power to adopt by-laws for a wide range of purposes, as described in the India Act. These include respect for law and order, shingles, taxation of wealth on the reserve, health risks, road construction and maintenance.