Inuk challenger in Labrador says voters need an ‘option’ other than the Liberals

Labrador is home to Inuit self governing territory of Nunatsiavut and the Innu Nations of Sheshatshiu and Natuashish.

The communities struggle with a lack of house and healthcare. Poverty is ever present.

The Innu Nation is hoping to fill some of these blanks with money it received as compensation for the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project.

The $12 billion project destroyed thousands of hectares of Innu traditional territory.

There were protests – people were arrested and charged with blocking an entrance to the dam’s construction site.

NDP candidate Amy Norman is Inuk – and one of the people charged.

“So it’s time we had another option we vote for an actual change,” says Norman. “We vote for an actual strong voice, someone who’s used to sticking up, fighting for Indigenous rights and that’s me, I’ve you know I’ve walked the walk, in terms of advocating for Indigenous peoples and I’m here to do the same in parliament.”

Labrador is considered a Liberal stronghold.

Except for briefly handing the riding over to Conservative Ambrose Peddle in 1968 and Peter Penashue in 2011, it has always voted Liberal.

Yvonne Jones won the riding in a 2013 byelection after Penashue stepped down – and has held it ever since.

“You know Indigenous people have been neglected in this country, their issues, their need for better infrastructure have been neglected for many, many decades and trying to bring that together and fill that gap in five years, is not possible,” she says.

Will Muskrat Falls be the deal breaker for Jones this election?

In July, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised more than $2 billion to bail the project out and help the province keep electricity rates low.

The Innu Nation followed with a lawsuit saying they weren’t consulted on the bailout – and their benefits agreement is at risk.

Conservative candidate Shane Dumaresque owns a local business and says he will consult the Innu Nation.

“Well, we’re really unhappy with the stance that the prime minister took with the New Dawn Agreement (a modern day treaty signed between the Innu and former prime minister Stephen Harper) and the people of the Innu Nation are very unhappy as well, that’s why they are suing the federal government, provincial government and we want a new deal, they want to sit at the table and renegotiate this deal so that they get their fair share,” says Dumaresque.

Jones wouldn’t comment on the lawsuit but tells APTN News, “anywhere in this country where we have been involved in funding agreements, services or initiatives that have related to Indigenous governments, we have been at the table with them, we’ve been consulting with them, we’ve been negotiating with them and we will continue to do that.”


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