Until 30 years ago the Innu were nomadic hunters in the forests of eastern Canada. Today they live in communities with high rates of suicide, alcoholism, child abuse and family violence. Canada seems intent on destroying the Innu’s land – their sole hope of survival – with a series of mega-projects, which it is pushing despite the fact that the Innu have never signed away their land.
Between the 1950s and 1970s the Innu were settled in fixed communities, under pressure from the government and the church. This abrupt change in their way of life has been a catastophe for the Innu. Stuck in communities where there is nothing to do, and cut off from the land which gives their culture meaning, the Innu’s society has fallen apart. They blame the tribe’s plight on the Canadian Government policy of moving the Innu into villages and away from their traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyles.
They lost their life in their land where they have lived for at least 7,000 years. They had no motivation to live and couldn’t live without alcohol and gas sniffing. As a result, Alcoholism and Gas-sniffing has been a problem in Sheshatshiu for at least 40 years. Many of the children who sniffed gas then are now the alcoholic parents and
grandparents of today’s sniffers.
In this situation, I think both side of Innu community and Canadian government are responsible for this tragic situation in Labrador with the Innu children and gas sniffing.
First, Canadian government should have guaranteed Innu’s life in Sheshatshiu. The right of any small community can not be disregarded. Government should respect each community equally. Second, Innu people should not live dependent on alcohol and gas sniffing. If they have a strong will to survive, they can enjoy their life wherever they live. Alcoholism and gas sniffing are not the solution for their problem. If they still have weak will for their life, the situation can not be changed.
Social Issues Essays