FOUR ABORIGINAL NATIONS UNITE TO ASSERT THEIR TERRITORIAL AUTONOMY
Chiefs and elected representatives of the Innu, Maliseet, Abenaki and Atikamekw Nations gathered Thursday in Quebec City to seal an international alliance based on the affirmation of their right to self-determination and their inherent right to self-government. Through this Declaration, the signatory First Nations provide themselves with the means to affirm and strengthen their relationship, in particular by concluding agreements or arrangements that promote harmonious coexistence on the territory;
“That the relationship between us, the signatory First Nations, be based on the recognition and respect of our respective rights, needs and culture, while promoting mutual assistance, collaboration, exchange and partnership, as our ancestors would have done. […] […] That we, the signatory First Nations, be the guardians of these commitments and ensure their implementation” – Extract from the Declaration.
This unprecedented approach is in line with the desire of the First Nations concerned to send a clear message to governments that no form of political interference can be tolerated when it comes to agreements or measures likely to have an impact on our never-transferred territories. As the ancestral territories of Ndakinna, Nitaskinan, Nitassinan and Wolastokuk were never ceded, the Nations thus affirm their legitimate rights to decide autonomously on the future, use and management of the respective ancestral territories. They agree that it is their responsibility to establish agreements concerning them according to their values and customs.
“Since time immemorial, and long before the arrival of European settlers, the Innu, Maliseet, Abenaki and Atikamekw First Nations have lived continuously on the territories of their ancestors. Historically, when it comes to overlapping areas, we have always been able to share and manage land use harmoniously. It is up to us to decide what we want or do not want on our territories,” the elected representatives said.
This alliance, sealed on the basis of the right to self-determination and the inherent right of self-government, demonstrates a clear commitment to take the necessary steps to affirm and strengthen relations between nations. It links the Innu First Nations of Pekuakamiulnuatsh (Mashteuiatsh), Essipit, Pessamit, Abenaki of Wôlinak and Odanak, Maliseet of Viger as well as Atikamekw of Manawan and Wemotaci.