|Moderated By: Kitskid -- (Moderated) -- Started: 12/9/2002 7:26:38 PM Revision History|
Innu given green light 12/9/02
By Michael MacDonald
The Canadian Press
The long-awaited relocation of Davis Inlet will begin this weekend with 50 Innu families moving their belongings across a frozen section of the Labrador Sea to the newly built community of Natuashish, a federal official has confirmed.
An agreement between the Mush- uau Innu band council and the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada was reached Friday amid complaints about who gets to move and who doesn’t, as five years of construction draws to a close.
Earlier this year, federal officials had said the plan was to move all 680 people in Davis Inlet into 135 new homes by mid-December. But that plan was later scuttled when it became clear the $152-million project was behind schedule.
Some residents in Davis Inlet, anxious to abandon the squalid island community known for its widespread social problems, said the historic relocation was turning into a fiasco.
Last week, the project manager urged the federal government to postpone the move because only 30 homes were expected to be finished and inspected by the Dec. 14 deadline. But band chief Simeon Tshakapesh insisted the resettlement would proceed whether the homes were ready or not.
Faced with the prospect of paying for basic services for two communities until next spring, federal officials sought a compromise.
While they agreed to allow 50 homes to be occupied,they also insisted some services — including the medical clinic — should be moved to Natuashish.
Feds may purchase Snowcat
To ensure those left behind in Davis Inlet have access to medical care, Ottawa is considering spending about $250,000 on a new, tank-like vehicle known as a Snowcat.
‘‘Money is no object now,’’ said a source close to the talks. ‘‘They just want to get this done.’’
Meanwhile, the Innu have issued a new list of demands as a condition of their final approval, the source said. Among other things, the Innu are demanding free access to satellite TV services in Natuashish.
The logistics of the initial move, which is expected to take until Dec. 20 to complete, will be worked out during a meeting Tuesday in Natuashish.
‘‘The details have yet to be worked out, but the broad brush strokes are there,’’ said Ian Gray, the department’s director for Newfoundland and Labrador affairs.
Once the first 50 families are moved in, construction will cease during the holiday period, Gray said. Building will resume Jan. 6 and the remainder of the residents will move in stages.
The Innu of northern Labrador settled in Davis Inlet in 1967 after they were promised good housing by government and church officials. But that promise was never kept.
Today, Davis Inlet is an international embarrassment. Its dilapidated plywood houses are overcrowded, and most homes have no running water and little insulation.
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