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Churchill Falls dam: Labrador Innu seek restitution for flooding of ancestral land

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The Innu Nation of Labrador says it will seek restitution from Hydro-Quebec for the ecological and cultural damage caused by the damming of the upper Churchill River in the early 1970s.

Grand Chief Etienne Rich says the Indigenous group will reveal today its plan to seek reparations for the flooding of ancestral lands.

The deal to build the massive Churchill Falls hydroelectric project in central Labrador was signed between Newfoundland and Quebec in 1969, and the project was completed in 1974.

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In November 2011, Ottawa and the Newfoundland and Labrador government signed a deal with the Innu that granted the group hunting rights within 34,000 square kilometres of land, plus $2 million annually in compensation for flooding caused by construction of the dam.

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That agreement helped secure the Innu Nation’s support for construction of the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric dam, about 200 kilometres downstream from the original project.

The Innu Nation represents about 3,200 people, most of whom live in the communities of Sheshatshiu and Natuashish.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 6, 2020.