Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

August 1, 2023

INNU: Indigenous Guards Demand an End to Forest Cuts

Blockade north of Dolbeau-Mistassini: indigenous guards of Nitassinan demand an end to forest cuts

Mashk Assi Collective, Censored News, August 1, 2023

[Mashteuiatsh, July 31, 2023] The Mashk Assi Collective, whose mission is to protect Nitassinan, sent a settlement to the company Resolu on July 31, 2023 to remind the opposition of the guardian families of the territory of the Innu Territory to any forest cutting on their territory (see attached). The company was advised by recommended mail that guards of the territory will be patrolling the area of km 40 north of Dolbeau-Mistassini to apply the self-determination of their ancestral sovereignty and to ensure that no unburnt trees are cut down for profit. A blockade was put in place in the sector on the morning of July 31, 2023 to monitor the enforcement of the Innue Law and compliance with the settlement.

The Mashk Assi Collective recalls that non-compliance with the consent of the Nitassinan guardian families in industrial activities on their ancestral territory will result in legal proceedings based on their inherent right to practice innu aitun, the traditional Ilnuash way of life, as protected by "the Ilnuash". international law, the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Aboriginal Peoples and Section 35 of the Constitution of Canada, 1982. The resignation lodged on July 31, 2023 is a final warning, following the eviction notice of seven forestry companies, including Resolu, which were lodged on May 29, 2023.

Since the filing of this eviction notice, the worst forest fires in Nitassinan history have ravaged the traditional territory of the Innu people, threatening the fauna and flora on which its identity and ancestral way of life rests. On June 18, 2023, the Mashk Assi Collective had signed, jointly with the atikamekw Ekoni Aci movement and the Mohawk group Kanien’keha:ka Kahnistensera a request for a moratorium on deforestation in Nitassinan to allow the forest to regenerate and limit the spread of fires (see attached).

The Mashk Assi Collective considers that the unilateral management of the forest by the Quebec government for commercial purposes without consultation with the indigenous custodians of the territory is entirely responsible for the forest fires that have presented unprecedented risks to the health and safety of all Northeast of the US continent.

The blockade imposed in Dolbeau-Mistassini on July 31, 2023 also aims to put an end to the mining prospect of the company First Phosphate, which intends to seize Nitassinan's resources without the approval of the guardian families of the unknown territory (see attached).

Finally, the Mashk Assi Collective reminds that no treaty or agreement in principle affecting the ancestral rights of the Ilnuash people can be negotiated without the consent of the guardian families of the Nitassinan who hold the ancestral title on these lands. More specifically, he rejects the Petapan Treaty, currently being negotiated behind closed doors by representatives of various levels of government including representatives of the federal government called Band Councils. A stay for the termination of the Petapan Treaty negotiations had also been sent by recommended mail to all parties involved on June 2
Mashk Assi Collective,

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