Innu Nation and Province Reach Historic Agreement

September 26, 2008: The Honourable Danny Williams, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, and Mark Nui, Grand Chief of Innu Nation, today announced the signing of a milestone agreement. The Tshash Petapen Agreement (jash pey-taah-ben) which translates as the New Dawn Agreement, marks a new beginning for the Innu of Labrador and their relationship with the province. The agreement resolves key issues relating to matters between the province and Innu Nation surrounding the Innu Rights Agreement, the Lower Churchill Impacts and Benefits Agreement (IBA) and Innu redress for the upper Churchill hydroelectric development. Final agreements based on the Tshash Petapen Agreement will be subject to ratification by the Innu people.

The Premier and Grand Chief were joined by: the Honourable Patty Pottle, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs; Innu Nation Deputy Grand Chief, Peter Penashue; Sheshatshiu Innu Chief, Anastasia Qupee; Mushuau Innu Chief, Prote Poker; and President and CEO of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, the province’s energy corporation, Ed Martin and the Honourable Kathy Dunderdale, Minister of Natural Resources.

"We are so proud to announce that after years of negotiations the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Innu Nation of Labrador have reached an agreement on the major issues that will facilitate the finalization of an Agreement in Principle on Innu Rights," said Premier Williams. "The Innu Rights Agreement will bring tremendous new benefits and opportunities to the Innu people of Labrador, and signals a new era of partnership and cooperation between their people and our government. The Tshash Petapen Agreement also resolves key issues associated with the Lower Churchill development including an Impacts and Benefits Agreement and redress on the upper Churchill hydroelectric development. We are extremely pleased to have these details agreed upon, as this signals an extremely important and significant step on the road to development of the Lower Churchill project. Today, Newfoundland and Labrador is substantially closer to finally seeing this project developed and in the North American context this further positions us as a major player in the energy industry."

Grand Chief Nui noted the importance of the agreement to the Innu of Labrador. "We called this agreement Tshash Petapen because it means new dawn. With this agreement we will now be able to complete and ratify the final three agreements which will create the foundations for our future as Innu and as Labradorians."

This agreement lays out quantum and location for various selections of Innu lands, and establishes economic areas assuring Innu participation in resource projects in the region. The agreement also provides compensation to the Labrador Innu for impacts associated with the Churchill Falls development. This settles the outstanding grievance of Innu Nation with respect to damages suffered to Innu lands and properties as a result of the flooding caused by the upper Churchill River development in the 1960s.

"A new and fruitful relationship was forged between the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and Innu Nation today," said the Honourable Patty Pottle, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs. "What we have witnessed is history in the making. This fair and equitable agreement between the Provincial Government and Innu Nation balances the interests of all the people of Labrador. This achievement builds upon a solid foundation for a strong and diverse future for all of Newfoundland and Labrador."

"When the three foundation agreements are approved by our membership, we will be able to turn our focus, energy and resources to addressing the internal issues impacting our communities and building a safe, healthy and productive future for future generations," added Deputy Grand Chief Penashue.

The agreement also contains the details of the commercial terms of the Lower Churchill IBA. Key elements of which include, a structured royalty regime and implementation funding to support Innu Nation’s involvement in the Project during construction.

"This significant progress toward the conclusion of the IBA with Innu Nation is a major milestone for the Lower Churchill Project," said Mr. Martin, "Step by step we are obtaining the certainty necessary to move forward with our project planning and further investment. We look forward to continuing to work with Innu Nation to finalize the IBA. More importantly, we look forward to a productive and long term relationship with our new partners."

Negotiations will continue to execute formal agreements. Once final agreements have been reached, Innu Nation will present the details to the Innu people for ratification, which is planned for early 2009.