Innu Takuaikan Uashat mak Mani-Utenam
The members of ITUM are the descendants of a population that has occupied much of the Québec-Labrador peninsula for the last 7,000 years. Because of the rarity of caribou in the interior starting in the late 19th century and the closing of a key trading post in the interior, many of the interior Innu moved, at least seasonally, to the coast.
Their subsistence was derived mainly from nomadic hunting, fishing, trapping and gathering. After spending the winter in their respective hunting grounds in the interior, the families returned to the coast in spring, notably via the Sainte-Marguerite and Moisie rivers. In summer they held a large gathering consisting of festivities, religious practices and fur-trading, and in fall they prepared for their return to the hunting grounds.
Today most of the Innu of ITUM live in two reserves: Uashat is located at the western extremity of Sept-Îles, while Mani-Utenam is approximately 16 km east of Sept-Îles. The former covers 117 hectares, while the latter covers over 527 hectares.
The Uashat and Mani-Utenam reserves were created in 1906 and 1949 respectively. They are grouped under one council consisting of a chief and nine councillors. The council is responsible for political matters, while the Director General and his team oversee the administrative files.
The Innu of Uashat and Mani-Utenam still preserve many aspects of their traditional way of life and culture. The traditional activities that continue to be practised include salmon fishing, hunting for Canada geese and caribou and trapping such animals as beavers for their fur. Such activities remain culturally and spiritually important.
The local economy is a mix of traditional and contemporary activities that extends from fishing and trapping to forestry, construction, transportation, outfitting, communications, engineering and commercial arts and handicrafts.
Some 50 businesses exist in both reserves in such areas as restaurants, convenience stores, commercial fishing and marine food processing, sewing, canoe-making, campgrounds, landscaping, heavy equipment, electricians, management services, beauty care and translation.
In addition, ITUM owns a shopping centre since 1976. Located in Uashat, “Les Galeries Montagnaises” covers 285,000 square feet and hosts more than 40 commerces.
The Shaputuan Museum, founded in 1998, is also located in Uashat. Its mission is to inform of and to perpetuate Innu culture.
Today, the Innu of Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam are a resident population of approximately 3,000 members in both reserves. In 2010, some 700 members of ITUM lived elsewhere.
The main language is Innu Aimun. French is the second language for many of ITUM’s members.
ITUM is in the process of negotiating a settlement of its land claims in Québec and Newfoundland and Labrador.
For further details, refer to the website http://www.itum.qc.ca/.