Relocation of the Mushuau Innu of Davis Inlet to the New Community of Natuashish

[November, 2007] – In December 2002, the Mushuau Innu began the move from Davis Inlet to their new community of Natuashish.

The relocation was one of the first steps in the Labrador Innu Comprehensive Healing Strategy, a comprehensive plan that was initiated by Health Canada, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, and Solicitor General to stabilize health, create safe communities and help the Innu build a better future.

From the outset, the Innu have been involved in the relocation. From helping manage the project to building roads and houses, the Innu have played a major role in the construction of their new community. The Mushuau Innu Band Council managed the delivery of the project through a professional project manager.

During initial talks with the Government of Canada, the Innu appointed a Director General and Construction Manager to represent them on matters related to the relocation. Every contractor involved in the project included a component for Innu employment and training. At the peak of construction, some 70-80 Innu were employed along with the other 225 non-Innu workers. Trades included labourers, heavy equipment operators, housekeeping, carpentry, electrician, mechanics and masonry.

With the physical relocation complete, the Mushuau Innu Band Council, the Government of Canada and the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, are working in partnership with the Innu to ensure the long-term healing process continues.

It is important to remember that there are no quick solutions to the challenges facing the Innu, the Government of Canada is committed to providing sustained support over time. The long-term goal is to help the Innu build capacity within their communities, and to work together with them to assist in delivering and managing their own community services.

In 1996, Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador and the Mushuau Innu signed the Mushuau Innu Relocation Agreement (MIRA) to relocate the Innu community from Davis Inlet to Natuashish, Labrador. The overall cost for the relocation is estimated at $165 million, of which the Innu will contribute $9.2 million through HST tax rebates.

Much progress has been made in the relocation of the Mushuau Innu:

  • The new community includes 175 houses, sewage and water systems, streets and service roads, a wharf, and an airstrip. Community buildings include a school, Band council office, fire hall, police station, community garage and nursing station.
  • The school is one of the most modern in the country and includes a large gym, stage, drama room, life sciences kitchen, day care centre and a playground.
  • The community is also undertaking the construction of a store, hotel and recreation centre.
  • Policing, hydro, airport, and regular nursing and emergency medical services are provided in the new community.
  • Services in the new community include a telecommunications system; energy supply, including the diesel power generation plant, and fuel and electrical distribution systems; water treatment plant and distribution system; the sewage collection system and lagoon; the solid waste land fill and access road; and, municipal vehicles and heavy equipment.

The Innu leadership and members believe the move to the new community was an important element in restoring pride, cultural identity, and a sense of purpose to the Innu. The Government of Canada shares this belief.

(November, 2007)