(Ottawa) MiningWatch Canada was shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of Innu leader Daniel Ashini Monday evening. Ashini, who had served as chief negotiator and president of the Innu Nation and as chief of the Sheshatshui Band Council, was involved in the creation of MiningWatch and was a member of its founding Board of Directors.
Ashini had worked for many years, at great personal cost, to ensure that mining development in Nitassinan would be undertaken in the most environmentally and socially responsible manner possible. In 1999 Ashini convened the very first conference held by MiningWatch, a workshop on the impacts of mining on Aboriginal peoples: “Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Aboriginal Communities and Mining,” and he was a firm believer in the potential for positive and respectful relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples.
MiningWatch spokesperson Jamie Kneen said, “Our hearts go out to Daniel’s family, and our sympathy goes out to the entire Innu People, whose Nation has lost a brave, thoughtful, and committed leader and defender.”
Said lawyer and Innu rights activist Armand Mackenzie, a member of the MiningWatch Canada Board of Directors, “I am saddened to hear the loss of a friend and a strong advocate of Innu and Aboriginal Rights, a Nation-builder and a good man: Daniel Ashini.”
Added Mackenzie, “I was very proud to stand by his side in our numerous struggles for the advancement of the rights of our people in regard to the development of our natural resources in Innu Territory. We co-founded the international arm of the Innu Nation, the Innu Council of Nitassinan, a non-governmental organization in consultative status with UN Economic and Social Council, ECOSOC.”