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Mineral Exploration in Nitassinan: A Matter of Respect. Innu Nation Guidelines for the Mining Industry

In 1995, the unprecedented pace of mineral exploration in Nitassinan following the announcement of the nickel find at Emish (Voisey’s Bay) quickly overwhelmed the ability of the Newfoundland government to effectively regulate or monitor exploration activity. Over 280,000 claims were staked and several dozen exploration companies descended on Nitassinan in the space of a few months—all without Innu consent.

The Innu responded to this invasion of their land with an eviction notice to Archean Resources and Diamond Fields in February 1995 for failing to obtain the permission of the Innu Nation before conducting exploration activities at Emish. The eviction led to a 12 day standoff between the Innu and 56 Royal Canadian Mounted Police at the site. Since then, the Voisey’s Bay discovery has become a multi-billion dollar mining project.

The companies involved in the Voisey’s Bay Project have now begun the process of building a respectful relationship with the Innu. But Innu are seeking to ensure that all mineral exploration and development in Nitassinan respects their land, culture and way of life. This document sets out the principles that should guide this process.