(UASHAT MAK MANI-UTENAM, QC) The Innu First Nation of Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam wishes to remind potential purchasers of Rio Tinto’s share of Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC) that the Canadian Aboriginal group continues to fiercely oppose IOC’s mining, railway and port operations within their traditional territory. One of the measures the Aboriginal group has taken was to file legal proceedings against IOC on March 18, 2013, along with another aboriginal group, the Innu First Nation of Matimekush-Lac John, asking the Court to block IOC’s operations in Quebec and Labrador as well as to grant them damages in the amount of CAD$900 million – see press release of March 20, 2013.
IOC’s operations on the traditional territory of Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam and their Innu brothers and sisters of Matimekush-Lac John have scarred the land as well as people’s lives for more than 60 years now. The Innu are well pas their breaking point and in addition to the above legal action, IOC can expect further acts of opposition in the coming months.
Meanwhile, Rio Tinto continues to seek to sell its majority stake in IOC. And while it is clear that Rio Tinto is looking to offload assets, the Innu First Nation of Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam cannot help but feel that Rio Tinto is also seeking to offload the “Innu problem”.
“We simply wish to make clear that any purchaser of Rio Tinto’s stake in IOC will run up against the same fierce opposition that is currently underway against IOC. The conflict will not end until the more than 60 years of injustice we have endured at the hands of IOC comes to an end,” stated Mike McKenzie, Chief of the Innu First Nation of Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam.
“While Rio Tinto is looking to move on, our people are not going anywhere. We will still be here, occupying our traditional territory like we always have and unfortunately living with all the negative impacts IOC’s projects have caused and continue to cause,” added Chief McKenzie.
In fact, the Innu First Nation of Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam would like to take this opportunity to remind any potential investor looking to do business on their traditional territory (covering much of northeastern Quebec and Labrador) that they will defend to the end the principle that any project on their traditional territory requires their consent.