03 July 2009

New Dawn still M.I.A

Announced with great fanfare last September, a land claims agreement-in-principle between the Innu of Labrador and the provincial government is apparently on life support.

The New Dawn agreement seems to have turned into the Matshishkapeu Accord after all.

The deal was supposed to go to a vote back in January but according to media reports the deal was postponed indefinitely.

Turned out there were unspecified “outstanding issues”.  Those issues have led to further discussions but it isn’t clear what the hold-up is or when, if ever, the deal may reach the stage where it can head to a vote.

Innu deputy chief Peter Penashue said last week that he hoped the deal will go to a vote in the fall.  He had hoped it would be concluded by now.

The deal was in trouble from the start, however and the same concerns within the Innu community are still be heard almost a year later.  The deal has a number of  other potential problems beyond local concerns over which Innu companies will benefit from the deal.

Whatever happened there’s no sign the deal is really back on track, despite Penashue’s optimism.

Settling a land claims deal with the Innu is crucial to development of the Lower Churchill.

In its annual report for 2008, the province’s energy corporation trumpeted the agreement as a major achievement in efforts to develop the Gull Island and Muskrat falls power complexes.  There’s no mention of the hang-up even though the report was released months after the vote was cancelled.