UPDATE: Tshakapesh gives premier ultimatum

Derek Montague
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Threatens to shut down Muskrat Falls over youth issues

Natuashish chief Simeon Tshakapesh at Confederation Building. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

After a half hour meeting with Premier Kathy Dunderdale earlier this afternoon, Mushuau Innu Nation Chief Simeon Tshakapesh gave the Premier an ultimatum on his facebook page.

Tshakapesh is giving the Premier two weeks to improve child protection services in Natuashish, or face a larger protest at confederation building.

“I will give the PREMIER two weeks and CYFS to bring some Child Protection Services in Natuashish Labrador. I will return to confederation building again after two weeks and next time I will ask the mothers and young people and whomever wants to come and support our fight for our children to St'John;s and stay there until we get help for these young Innu Children from Natuashish. JUST TWO WEEKS FROM NOW,” wrote Tshakapesh.

Shortly after his facebook post, Tshakapesh told TC Media that he might also consider organizing a large-scale protest to shut down the Muskrat Falls project, if he doesn’t see the provincial government making significant improvements to child welfare in the community.

“If they don’t do nothing, the people of Natuashish and Sheshatshiu are telling me to shut Muskrat Falls down. I may have to do that,” he said.

“I think we will have a massive protest, on a scale that they will not be able to handle it, because I’ve had enough of this abuse.”

Tshakapesh says that the improvements by the province can come in different forms, such as an addition of more social workers in Natuashish, or for kids to be taken into custody and put in a safe environment.

But Tshakapesh is still insisting that Innu children shouldn’t be taken away from their Innu culture.

Earlier today, Tshakapesh staged a one-person sit-in in the lobby of Confederation building, demanding to meet with Dunderdale to discuss youth issues in Natuashish, especially the gas-sniffing epidemic that is plaguing the small Innu community.

The premier’s office told TC Media that Dunderdale is not doing any media interviews today, but released a brief statement regarding her meeting with Tshakapesh.

“The meeting was productive and the Premier impressed upon the Chief the importance of working together for a solution that protects all children in the community. Currently, the Department of Child Youth and Family Services is working closely with the Band Council to ensure children and youth that have been referred to the department with solvent abuse issues are provided help,” reads the statement.


Earlier story:

Natuashish chief Simeon Tshakapesh sits on the floor in Confederation Building in St. John's where he staged a peaceful protest, waiting to meet with Premier Kathy Dunderdale about problems facing youth in his Labrador community.

He told The Telegram, he's been advised he'll get a meeting with Dunderdale around noon today.

"I'm sitting here on behalf of aboriginal youth in Natuashish as well as all of Labrador," Tshakapesh said, with tears in his eyes. "I'm tired of seeing my own families going through this as well … There are services in this province I think we're entitled to ... But it's not happening."

In the meantime, he said, the cycle of substance abuse, including gas sniffing, is continuing. "I want those kids to be safe, in a safe environment," he said.



Geographic location: Labrador, St. John's

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Recent comments

  • Stan Squires
    October 03, 2013 - 13:36

    I am originally from St. Philips just outside St. Johns and im now living in Vancouver.I wanted to say that just moving native people from one part of labrador to another part is not going to solve the problem. This reminds me of the Apartheid Gov. of South Africa when that gov. moved the Black People of South Africa from the cities to the Bantulands.At the time that didn't solve the problem of Apartheid in South Africa.It won't solve the problem In labrador either.When the canadian gov. stops treating the native people here like the Black people were treated in Apartheid South Africa, then the problem can be solved.

  • Christine
    October 02, 2013 - 23:35

    I am totally appalled at Chief Simeon Tshakapesh's complete lack of respect for out military veterans!! How dare he sit on the monument recognising the supreme sacrifice that our war dead gave. Sitting under the "Lest We Forget" monument and chatting on a cell phone in the Confederation Building lobby is totally unacceptable. Anyway, drug/chemical addictions are not just confined to a certain or select group. It happens in all walks of life, in all socio-economic groups. Surely we can pool our resources and come up with a plan that works for all. There is so much trust missing from all groups involved and we need to have a mutual respect for each other on all levels. God protect our children; all of them!

  • George Mogridge
    October 02, 2013 - 22:06

    Really Labrador St.Johns?, dose labrador not even Belong to Newfoundland it Belongs to one City on the Island? I am With the Chief 100% of the way Labrador Has been Far to long under the control of NEWFOUNDLAND that was never found in the first place they killed off the People who lived on the island and took it over its time for Labrador to say ENOUGH!!!!! and Take Back What was ours in the first place!!!! The Labrador People NEED TO STAND TOGETHER !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Mitch
    October 02, 2013 - 21:42

    Until the aboriginals take responsibility and actions themselves, you will never be able to throw enough money at them to fix the social issues they have. Unless you close the communities and integrate them into regular society, this will be their way. They have it way too easy now and they have no reason to change. Sad situation indeed.

  • Camperman
    October 02, 2013 - 19:43

    Who is he to think he can shut down Muskrat Falls? If he attempts that he should be arrested just like the rest of us would be. And don't worry about making him a martyr. Just make him a prisoner for a few days.

  • Labby
    October 02, 2013 - 19:36

    I understand where the innu people are coming from, but at the same time...you need to have support within your community formed by your own people. We cant always rely on outsiders and money to fix things. They will only go so far for so long. Form community councils, establish healthier families, and bonds within the community that will be able to help each other out in the community. Protesting and closing down muskrat falls will only take someone so far. It eventually comes down to parents, families, and the community to form their own support. I think anyway.

  • Innu
    October 02, 2013 - 18:56

    Well, you settler should know you non aboriginal people are just hiding your problems that's we won't hear any negativity on lil white riding hood !

  • Barry
    October 02, 2013 - 18:09

    The picture says it all about this fella, he sits on his butt and waits for someone else to solve his problems.

  • RATTER 01
    October 02, 2013 - 17:53

    Why is this problem the responsibility of the Provincial Government. You are given healthy sums of money annually to run your band and take care of your own issues. Use that money wisely and look after these children yourself. This problem has been ongoing for years. The government tired before but once the children returned to their environment, the problems flared up again. I think it's time Simeon for you to look inward and admit your people are the cause. Educate the parents first, then go after the young.

  • Suffer Little Children Part Two
    October 02, 2013 - 14:11

    Why will this time be any different? The children are the victims of lack of leadership, both aboriginal and provincial government.

  • So Sad!
    October 02, 2013 - 13:16

    Chief can talk and talk and talk, but as long as the parents do nothing about their own problems, then nothing will change with their children. Chief and ALL of the community of Natuashish has to take responsibility for their own actions instead of telling the provincial government to fix it. It can ONLY be fixed from within.

  • Edmund
    October 02, 2013 - 10:55

    You are right Filly. He was on TV last night saying that it is so bad that they have to look after their young people 24/7. Well, excuse us for living Simeon. Isn't that what good parents and community leaders are supposed to do?? Maybe you and your elders should start showing some leadership and solve your internal problems instead of running to the outside governments to do so. Start spending all the government handouts and land claim money that you have been receiving for years on getting the help that is needed instead of it being held and wasted by the leaders. Welcome to the real world of being responsible on your own. You can't have it both ways.

  • t
    October 02, 2013 - 10:44

    Stop grandstanding, go home, and deal with those parents who are allowing their kids to run around with no supervision. If they refuse to care for their children, then have then taken away to live with someone who will.

  • Derek
    October 02, 2013 - 10:37

    Isn't this the same community that has problems with drugs and alcohol being smuggled in and abused by the adults?? Simeon, how the hell do you or any other adult in the community who claims to have even one modicum of intelligence expect children to listen to you when the example you, as adults set is one smelling of hippocracy?? How do you tell a child 'no!!' and then do yourselves what you tell the child not to do?? Clean up your own act first before you come crying to us for $600 million again to help you relocate the problem.... not solve it.

  • Darrell
    October 02, 2013 - 10:28

    Go away Simeon, just go away.

  • Look In The Mirror
    October 02, 2013 - 10:25

    Children are sniffing gas because they see parents and elders doing it. Someone needs to step in and save the children because everything that has been tried so far is failing. But the very scariest part of all - the 2 people who will talk about this are a pair of fools: Dunderdale and Tshakapesh.

  • Filly
    October 02, 2013 - 09:43

    "I want those kids to be safe, in a safe environment," What has been accomplished since since Davis Inlet? Nothing? You mean relocate the town again Simeon? You mean send them to town for treatment again? Obviously the same old same old isn't working. Take some responsibility for yourselves.