by the Gilbert Pilot family
National liberation is a phenomenon by which a socio-economic entity rejects any negation of its historic path. In other words, the national liberation of a People is the conquest of the historic personality of this People and its return to its roots in spite of the destruction by imperial domination.
The Innu People occupy and live in a land called NITASSINAN which the colonizers named Quebec and Labrador. We have occupied this land for several thousand years, 9000, according to archeological studies.
The Innu People, in their tradition and ideas of space have never made artificial borders like the colonizers. In other words, our People have used geographical limits such as rivers, lakes, mountains, etc.
Moreover, the Innu People see borders through natural laws, for example migrating at hunting time to follow the caribou. Besides, around the caribou hunt there is an economic, cultural and social dependence deeply related to the spiritual.
This relationship and interdependence is a gift of self, a mutual fulfillment which is expressed in food, clothing, the making of tools and the drum which unites the Innu and the spirit of the animal.
In this manner we form an integral part with all forms of life in an never- ending cycle.
The GREAT SPIRIT, RTSHISHE MANITOUS, wanted it to be like this and it is from this Spirit we come from in so much as we are Innu (human being) and placed in Nitassinan (our land)
This to perpetuate life and the spiritual relationship so essential to our survival.
There has always existed a social and government structure of which the family is the core. An individual within the family plays in important role, responsible to his family and to the collectivity.
The nomadic way of life, in constant dependence on the land and aquatic migration, has led our people to adapt to all circumstances and to acquire knowledge and capacities beyond the normal.
The Caribou and the Salmon are vital elements in Innu life.
The individual is hunter, fisherman, builder, geologist, astronomer, cook, mid- wife, spiritual guide, philosopher, archeologist, geographer, toponamist, ...according to the needs and circumstances.
The humility by which the Innu have evolved has enable them to practice a well thought out and controlled exploitation in NITASSINAN.
The Innu have an innate respect for the things around them such as the different forms of life and the sense of sharing.
The colonizers, in a dishonest and abusive manner, have contributed to the placing our survival in danger and the loss of the sense of sharing.
Our love and our sense of belonging to MOTHER EARTH has been such that we have never altered her Body and Soul.
Our People, the first occupants of NITASSINAN, is characterized by members who are linked by language, a common heritage, traditions and a spiritual life which make up its national identity.
Our People comprises of a population living in a well-defined territory called NITASSINAN where they have maintained sovereignty for thousands of years and who have never abandoned their rights, responsibilities, laws and obligations towards NITASSINAN.
Our People, in fact, can establish equal relations with other People.
In NITASSINAN our People have the right to exercise their sovereign power in determining and applying, in complete freedom their laws, their rights and responsibilities based on fundamental and traditional values.
Having public sovereignty over NITASSINAN we intend to affirm our full and entire jurisdiction which extends to renewable and on-renewable resources on land and below ground which comprises our territory.
NITASSINAN has been subject to real colonial incursion due to the discovery of natural resources. Mines, forests and hydro-electricity are going to be the object of an uncontrollable greed by the colonizers in the decades to come.
A process will start which will accelerate the confinement of entire Innu populations to reserves for the purposes of making them sedentary.
All political, administrative and religious institutions will contribute to dispossess, expropriate, denationalize and dehumanize an entire People.
We have been taken from our parents and placed by force into residential schools at the mercy of other values and another way of life. These will be followed by well-planned policies bent on assimilating us, supported by programs and public services (education, health, social services, housing...) and economic development.
These government actions will lead to our dependence on them. Also, it will break down the heart of our society, the family, and will create social problems such as drugs, alcohol, family violence, suicide, a high death rate and medical problems which will pass the national average in several regards.
In this direction towards hell, the governments of Canada and Quebec- Labrador will favor the industrialization of NITASSINAN without ever consulting or still more without obtaining the consent of the main people concerned, the INNU.
The industrial era will effect the INNU in a critical way. At this moment they are confronted by Western values based on the accumulation of goods and capital. This is difficult to understand for a People who have been characterized by a Spirit of sharing and community.
Unfortunately, some INNU are content to adopt these values such as private property, gain and a thirst for power.
This is Western society where a small elite possesses a big part of the wealth, thereby controlling the human tribe.
Moreover, the political and judiciary serve these values and this elite. These lead to dehumanized automanization, and leaving aside values and fundamental human rights.
Native people, in particular the INNU, are going to be affected by this human degradation to a critical degree.
In between dependence and subjection, my family and myself have chosen affirmation and liberation.
In this way, we intend to sensitize those people who have a tendency to dominate, to adopt a way which is proper to man: human activities which measure up to the fundamental needs of man and not to the service of technology and the greed of a few.
The decline of the industrial area, economic and monetary uncertainty, the depletion of non-renewable natural resources, the globalization of markets vis-a-vis the environment are so many indications which make one believe that Western values are not any more the values on which societies seem to want to adhere to.
So many energies, spent abusively, leads to a precarious model of development which is supposed to create a superior quality of life.
However, humanity would have interest to make this turn towards its own survival. Depollution, recycling, recuperation, alternate energy, eco- development, healthy agricultural activity as well as other measures are the keys towards the gradual turn towards world equilibrium.
Also, the world is showing signs of fatigue. Think only of the increase in active natural phenomenon on the earth: floods, earthquakes, volcanic activity, climatic changes, the greenhouse effect, the ozone layer, etc...... These are signs which point towards the worst if humanity does not take the means to remedy a critical situation.
However, obstacles persist... Military and political power being the useless remains of economic power.
Just the same, we have the hope that humanity will be able to discern the true choices that will have to be made.
We have made our choice. From a small community called Mani-Utenam we have undergone a struggle where a people are faced with a choice: adopt a model of development or return to a Spirit of fundamental values.
Today my family denounces:
-- The politics, behavior and reprehensible gestures which are an injustice and prejudice to our integrity as members of the INNU People.
-- The Canadian Constitution which has never wanted to make more precise the collective rights of the INNU People.
-- The validity of a constitution which has never consented to re-establish the fundamental rights of the INNU in contravention to the present International Law now in effect which Canada wanted to join.
-- The domestic laws which go against the spirit and letter of the international agreements and pacts such as the "Indian Act" and provide for general application without being specific in regards to the INNU
-- The Supreme Court which has never bothered to deal with the basis for Native collective rights. Rather, they are pushed to the sterile, illegal negotiating table.
-- The shameful political manipulation of Canadian and Quebec institutions which favour a dominating attitude in regards to Native People, in particular the INNU.
-- The contempt for our fundamental rights as a people and the denial of our rights to auto-determination.
-- The criminalization of our legitimate struggle for the national liberation of our People and NITASSINAN by the imposition of an injunction, effective for 30 years, on the members of the Coalition for NITASSINAN. This group consists of traditional INNU
Already there have been 8 prison sentences and there will be 84 more. During the hearing for these cases, the accused INNU handled their own defense in their language without the help of lawyers. They did this because they lacked money and because they were to be judged in a biased manner given that the vast majority of the population in the region is opposed to their position.
-- The use of public funds which are supposed to be used for the well being of members of the Maliotenam community for the purposes of repression by the Band Council of Uashat (Sept Iles). Reprisals, threats and intimidation are directed towards the opponents of a totalitarian regime and the hydro-electric power project (Sm-lll).
-- An individual fired a large caliber gun shot at our house in October, l992.
--. Death threats have been made to me (Gilbert Pilot). The Quebec Police Force received the call in December, 1991. in Sept-Iles.
-- Three hundred white people (non-native) invaded Maliotenam on January 17, 1993 to expel by force two Japanese Buddhists, some Americans, other Japanese citizens and a Montrealer who had come on a peace march supporting the INNU who are opposed to SM-lll. (The former were never tried before the courts for this action.) This is a flagrant demonstration of injustice because these same white people who had blocked a provincial road (=138) (June, 1993) were also never tried before the courts. When the INNU (Coalition for NITASSINAN) showed opposition by peaceful action, they are imposed with injunctions and imprisonments. The free expression of the right to association and the right to demonstrate are undermined...
--The Quebec Human Rights Commission, as a result of an historic meeting with the INNU NATION in August, 1990, published a report in which analysis and commentary concerning the collective rights of our People were taken out, in particular the part on auto-determination. This action shows the lack of goodwill on the part of Quebec institutions when treating the INNU question and in general the Native question. No Quebec institution is ready to favour the establishment of the legitimate rights of the INNU. The spirit of colonization is maintained.
--Hydro-Quebec, a state corporation of Quebec, is going ahead with its Ste. Marguerite River project (SM-11) on Quebec's North Shore (NITASSINAN). However, the office for public hearings (BAPE), following public consultations, expressed reserve and recommended to the government of Quebec not to authorize the project as presented by Hydro-Quebec. This report shows that the Coalition for NITASSINAN was right. It was a victory for this group except that the reaction of the non-Native population was quick and strong. The latter organized a demonstration near the SM-11 dam in which they buried a copy of the BAPE report, using heavy machinery. The Energy Minister, Mme. Lise Bacon, declared with great flair that the government will favour economic benefits and jobs that will be created. The INNU and the environment are relegated to the sidelines. Intolerance and racism again come to the surface.
--The signed agreement by the Band Council of Uashat (Sept-Iles) with the Ministry of Public Security of Quebec concerning police services, gives police responsibility to Quebec. In other words, it replaces the Native Police with a new police force under the responsibility of the Quebec Police Force. The INNU population never consented to this. They saw this as a way of increasing Quebec control in the daily life of the INNU. A petition was sent to the Minister of Public Security to show our opposition but it was never considered.
There exists a collusion between the Band Council and Quebec aiming to squash all forms of opposition to an oppressive regime and to SM-11, thereby affecting the national integrity of the INNU and their territory.
So these are the major reasons for which my family has adopted such a radical opposition and to declare the following statement:
Considering my family as a cell within the INNU Nation and having responsibility towards our People and NITASSINAN,
Considering the natural laws which have come from the Creator as the only laws which can govern our lives,
Considering the importance of assuming our responsibilities without outside interference,
And referring to modern international law now in practice and invoking more particularly to:
--Article II b) and d) of the International Convention on the abolition and condemnation of the crime of apartheid;
--.the Universal Declaration on Human Rights;
--.the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural rights:
--.The Teheran Proclamation;
--.the United Nations Declaration on the elimination of all forms racial discrimination;.
--The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide;
--.the Declaration on Development and Social Programs;
--.The Declaration on the Utilization of Scientific and Technological Progress for Peace and Humanity;
--the Declaration of Principles on International Cultural Cooperation
--.and in particular, the Declaration on the Access to the Independence of Peoples and Colonized countries.
We, the undersigned, Mr. Gilbert Pilot, my partner, Mme. Vivian Michel and our children, Shipiss (12 years), Pinashue (5 years), Penute (2 years) and Uashtessiu (1 year) for whom we are speaking, declare and proclaim our right to auto-determination and also our independence in regards to the Canadian, Quebec and Labrador governments.
We reclaim our national INNU identity and thus all our national rights:
--. The right to existence;
--.The right to determine without outside constraint, our political status;
--.The right to exercise in complete freedom, our economic, social and cultural activities in accordance with the principles governed by our traditional values;
--.The right to circulate freely on our land;
--.The governments must commit itself not to exercise any pressure which would impede the development of our family conforming thus to the spirit and letter of the different Declarations, Conventions and International Pacts now in effect;
--The right to maintain our privileged and spiritual relationship with NITASSINAN
--.The right to be treated equally with other nations in mutual respect. This is essential to the advancement of peace and international cooperation.
We ask the International Community to recognize our INNU nationality and all references to that effect.
We ask for an effective protection from the International Community for my family while we are working for our rights for auto-determination.
We ask the International Community to recognize the necessity of our family to establish a new concept to development based on an harmonious development of NITASSINAN
We opt for more human activity in the area of development where eco-tourism is preferred.
We ask the International Community for financial and technical support in elaborating and implementing our idea of development.
In order to make effective, the exercise of our Right to auto-determination my family, in a common decision, have decided to:
--.renounce all the advantages and privileges coming from the Canadian and Quebec governments whether it is monetary or material:
--.renounce our "Indian" status which the Indian Act, a discriminatory law which has no other purpose than to assimilate us and take away our national identity.
Thus we renounce our dependence on government and their institutions which has been imposed in a concerted way.
We proclaim our economic and political independence and intend to exercise our Right to political, social, economic and cultural auto-determination in complete freedom in NITASSINAN.
We sign this on the 29th day of September, 1992, in Maliotenam.
Shipiss Michel, child
Pinashue Pilot, child
Penute Pilot, child
Uashtessiu Pilot, child
Sylvestre Rock , Witness
Translation from French to English: Gerry Pascal
Cite Article : www.canadahistory.com/sections/documents
Source: NAC/ANC, Elgin-Grey Papers