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Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones

Signing of the Agreement-in-principle of a General Nature Between the First Nations of Mamuitun Mak Nutashkuan and the Governements of Québec and Canada

March 31, 2004 - The Chiefs of the four Innu First Nations of Mamuitun mak Nutashkuan, Raphaël Picard (Betsiamites), Denis Ross (Essipit), Richard Malec (Nutashkuan) and Gilbert Dominique (Mashteuiatsh), along with Benoît Pelletier, Quebec Minister of Canadian Intergovernmental Affairs and Aboriginal Affairs, and Andy Mitchell, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, today signed the Agreement-in-Principle of a General Nature that had been previously initialled by the negotiators in 2002.

After more than 20 years of intense negotiations, the signing of this historic Agreement represents a significant step towards the negotiation of a treaty which will establish new relationships between the Innus and the citizens of Quebec. The treaty will assist the economic and social development of the Aboriginal communities and of the North Shore and Saguenay- Lac-Saint-Jean regions.

"I am pleased today to sign the Agreement-in-Principle of a General Nature. The signing of this document is the tangible expression of the government of Canada's commitment to a process aimed at effectively concluding treaties, and the good will of the signatories demonstrates the importance we attach to continuing negotiations. The government of Canada will ensure the public is informed on the status and progress of these negotiations and that interested third-parties will be consulted during the ongoing negotiations towards a treaty", stated Minister Mitchell.

"This agreement is the starting point for future negotiations moving us forward towards a new generation of treaty making based on harmonious cohabitation between the Innu, Quebeckers and Canadians,"declared the Innu Chiefs."The Agreement-in-Principle of a General Nature will form the basis for the recognition, in the future treaty, of our Aboriginal rights, including that of Aboriginal title, as well as our inherent right to self-government and our distinctive culture. This agreement holds the promise of a brighter future for the Innu, especially our youth."

"The relationship between the Government of Quebec and the Innu has been nurtured over many years," stated Benoît Pelletier. "Both sides had to undertake awareness efforts for that relationship to reflect trust and respect. With today's signing of the Agreement-in-Principle of a General Nature, we have reached a significant step in negotiation. I have full confidence that together we will arrive at a treaty with the Innu Nation, and that we will accomplish this with the active involvement of the citizens of the North Shore and Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean."

After the signing of the Agreement, the Innu Chiefs and the Ministers of Quebec and Canada took this opportunity to reiterate their confidence in the negotiating process towards a treaty.

The First Nations of Betsiamites, Essipit and Mashteuiatsh are part of the Mamuitun Tribal Council, which has the mandate to negotiate a treaty with the governments of Canada and Quebec. The Innus of Nutashkuan joined this negotiation in November 2000 and also mandated the Mamuitun Tribal Council to negotiate the treaty.

This press release can be also consulted on Internet at the following addresses:
www.mamuitun.com
www.versuntraite.com

For more information, please call:
Raoul Kanapé
Communications Manager
Mamuitun Tribal Council mak Nutashkuan
(418) 275-7796 or (418) 637-5656

Damir Croteau
Press Coordinator
Office of Minister Benoît Pelletier
(418) 646-5950

Bryan Kirk
Press Coordinator
Office of Minister Andy Mitchell
(819) 997-0002

Signature gouvernementale
Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones
905, avenue Honoré-Mercier, 1er étage - Québec (Qc)  G1R 5M6 - 418 643-3166

Online as if : January 20, 2005