Canada - Assembly of First Nations Supports the Innu in Asserting their First Nation Rights


Assembly of First Nations statement

Date of publication: 
7 October 2014

Assembly of First Nations Supports the Innu of Uashat mak Mani-utenam and Matimekush-Lac John in Asserting their First Nation Rights on their Traditional Territory

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Ghislain Picard today gave his support to the Innu of Uashat mak Mani-utenam (QC) and Matimekush-Lac John (QC) in their battle with the multinational mining corporation IOC/Rio Tinto. The two Innu communities, located on the North Shore of Quebec, recently organized an opposition campaign to stop IOC/Rio Tinto from continuing to ignore and violate their First Nation inherent rights on their traditional territory.

“I fully support all First Nations in asserting their rights and the implementation of free, prior and informed consent as a basic standard when it comes to resource development. These two communities have been living with impacts on their way of life for the last 65 years and it is time for them to have a say in the sustainability and development of their lands and territories,” said National Chief Picard. “As stewards of the land, First Nations have a continuing responsibility to protect the lands, waters and vital resources bestowed upon them. This is a continuing responsibility to our ancestors to see their vision through – a vision of shared prosperity and success for all our peoples.”

Starting in 1950, IOC/Rio Tinto built about 30 iron ore mines in the Innu territory as part of a mega-mining project in the Schefferville (QC), Labrador City (NL) and Sept-Îles (QC) areas that IOC/Rio Tinto still operates today – other than the 20 mines that the corporation abandoned in 1982, near the community of Matimekush-Lac John.

The campaign against IOC/Rio Tinto (entitled IOC/Rio Tinto, Pay the Rent) follows four years of less than satisfying negotiations between the two entities. The negotiations recently collapsed, failing to produce an Impact and Benefit Agreement (IBA). IOC/Rio Tinto is the only mining company on the territory that has refused to sign a satisfactory IBA with the two Innu communities. The Innu have concluded IBAs with the four other mining companies operating on their territory.

As a symbolic gesture, the two Innu communities recently brought two large boulders of iron ore to the corporate headquarters of IOC/Rio Tinto in Montreal in an effort to raise awareness and encourage the company to come to an honourable agreement with them. They also initiated a Court action against IOC/Rio Tinto in 2013.

You can get more information on the IOC/Rio Tinto, Pay the Rent campaign at:

The Assembly of First Nation is the national organization representing First Nation citizens in Canada. Follow #AFN on Twitter AFN_Comms, AFN_Updates.