The eviction forced the company to suspend exploration activity, but a 12-day standoff between Innu and over 50 RCMP officers ensued at the remote location. An attempt by the Labrador Inuit Association, which also has rights in the Eimish area, and the Innu Nation to negotiate with the two companies ended abruptly when the company made it clear that it would not recognize aboriginal rights and resumed exploration activity.
By issuing the eviction order, the Innu wanted to make it clear to these companies that any exploration and development on our land must be subject to the wishes of our people. Over 13,000 new claims covering several thousand square kilometers of aboriginal land have been staked in the last few months alone. But the Innu have never been approached for permission.
Diamond Fields Resources, a company associated with controversial developer and stock promoter Robert Friedland, announced a major discovery of nickel, copper and cobalt at Eimish in November 1994, spurring a rush of claim staking activity. The Newfoundland government has refused to halt the project, which is proceeding despite the fact that both the Innu Nation and the Labrador Inuit Association are negotiating land rights with Canada and Newfoundland.
The Innu oppose development of a mine at Eimish. The Innu have used the area for countless generations. It has always been an important travel route, and the drilling sites and exploration camp is located in the same vicinity as historic Innu camps and burial sites. The area is important habitat for caribou, wolves, small mammals, and migratory birds, including the endangered harlequin duck.
Diamond Fields has failed to assure the Innu that these things are being respected, and is proceeding with exploration activities without recognizing aboriginal rights. Given the reputation of Robert Friedland and his role in the Summitville disaster in Colorado, one of the worst environmental disasters in US mining history, the Innu fear that the present exploration activity will lead to the destruction of a special and sacred place.
"This land is Innu and Inuit land. It does not belong to the Newfoundland government or to Canada. We never gave it to them, and we continue to use it. But it makes our lives very difficult when there is more low-level flying, more fishing camps, and more mining without our consent. The companies who come here are parties with the governments in stealing land from the Innu people." -
Tshenish Pasteen, Innu elder
VOICE YOUR SUPPORT FOR THE INNU STRUGGLE. TELL GOVERNMENTS AND INDUSTRY THAT YOU OPPOSE MINERAL EXPLORATION AT VOISEY BAY.
Premier Clyde Wells
PO Box 8700
St. John's, NF
fax (709) 729-5875
Dr. Rex Gibbons
PO Box 8700
St. John's, NF
Diamond Fields Resources
Suite 1900, 355 Burrard St.
Vancouver, BC V6C 2G8
fax: (604) 687-7140