Tshishe-shastshit is one of the two Innu communities in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is located at the head of Lake Merville, or Hamilton Inlet. Its name means "the narrow place in the river". This was a summer gathering spot for the Innu who occupied the inland territory most of the year, pursuing caribou. This is also where they encountered missionaries and exchanged their pelts with Hudson's Bay Company traders. Sedentarization, encouraged by the federal government, followed closely on the establishment of a Roman Catholic mission on the southern side of the river. At the beginning of the 1960s, the few existing houses were surrounded by numerous tents. The village, which now holds about 1,200 inhabitants, has a school, church, medical clinic, youth health centre and several businesses.
Number of persons within the community: 644
Number of persons outside the community: 50
Localisation: approximately 40 kilometres from the town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
On November 23, 2006 the community of Sheshatshiu was set apart as reserve land for the Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation.
The reserve consists of 804.022 hectares of lands which constitutes the existing community land base of Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation as well as crown lands provided by the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Reserve creation at Sheshatshiu is part of a long-term strategy to address the social challenges of the community.
The community of Sheshatshiu is situated in a rural community The community of North West River is adjacent to Sheshatshiu separated by the North West River.
The Federal Crown holds legal title to reserve lands. Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, with direction from the Band Council, administers, controls and manages reserve land for the First Nation on behalf of the Crown. The Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation may assume responsibility for managing certain aspects of the reserve land in the future, should they choose to do so.
Within the reserve, the First Nation may choose to request the designation of land for leasing purposes. Leasing reserve land is usually used for economic development ventures for band or non-band members. Designation for leasing offers the First Nation increased flexibility to change or adapt the use of land according to the community's needs, maintains long-term interest in the land, and provides the Band with income in the form of rent based on fair market value. Designations must be assented to by band members through a referendum, approved by the Minister of INAC, with the initial lease (head lease) administered by the department.
Within Sheshatshiu, certain lands are to be set aside by the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, with the consent of the Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation Band Council, for specific, non-commercial purposes that improve the general welfare of the First Nation. An example would be land set aside for the school and the Innu Nation building.
In addition to the pre-existing authority the Council held to create by-laws, with reserve creation, the Indian Act gives the Council the authority to pass land related by-laws for a variety of purposes. This includes the observance of law and order, zoning, property taxation on-reserve, health hazards, road construction and maintenance.
Council can determine who can live on a reserve, however, no by-law can infringe on an individual's rights under the Indian Act. With the consent of a majority of electors of the First Nation, Council can also enact a by-law banning the possession, use and sale of intoxicants on-reserve. Copies of all by-laws must be shared with the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs before they come into effect.
By-laws enacted by Council do not apply outside the geographic boundaries of the reserve. However, in the absence of federal laws, many provincial laws do apply to the reserve. This includes laws regarding child welfare, family law, contracts, corporations, and the regulation of professionals and trades. Generally, if the province has the constitutional authority to pass the law, and it applies the law to all residents of that province, the law will apply on reserve.
Statistics Canada (2006 Census)
4:43 min. - “Here, the Newfoundland government doesn’t recognize us the way Quebec does with the other Innu bands, and we are not eligible for grants. This is the reason for our negotiations”. Former Chief of Tshishe-shastshit
Pun Penashue - We have quite a few services here: schools, Innu Nation offices, women's shelters, teen pregnancy programs, including help with schooling. We even have a prison. The Newfoundland government doesn't recognize us, as the Québec government does for the other Innu bands, so we are not eligible for subsidies. That's why we're negotiating. We work hard on the issue of recognition, to not be considered Newfoundland residents. In 1949, when Newfoundland joined Canada, they were supposed to receive money for the Indians. But the Newfoundland government preferred to consider the latter as ordinary residents. So, we never saw the money. However Indian Affairs Canada will review the file, not the Newfoundland government. The Innu comes from the Earth and lives off the Earth. We must respect the Earth, and those are the terms under which I work.
Music - Philippe Mckenzie
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