My grandfather, Stewart Michelin, born at the mouth of Travispine River in the Grand River in 1894, died at North West River in 1986. He was a Grand River trapper. Grandfather Stewart’s trapping place was at Sandy Banks, just on the other side of Muskrat Falls.
Grandfather Stewart raised 11 children, all from trapping at Sandy Banks and fishing at Lester’s Point, near Rigolet. Grandfather never worked at any other job other than fishing and trapping. He did very well for himself from trapping and fishing. Grandfather Stewart and his siblings were raised as he was, from what the Grand River had to offer.
My mother, Charlotte Michelin Blake, now deceased, told me that they, the Michelin family, would go up to Sandy Banks every fall before trapping, picking red berries. She said that the bigger children would have to walk all of the way around the shore while Ma and Pa paddled the canoe with the smaller children.
I think it was very unfair that the Newfoundland government brokered a deal to harness Muskrat Falls (a project that will destroy our historic river) and exclude the non-Innu, Grand River people from the benefits.
My people, though not Innu, have been living in this region of Labrador for over 200 years. That is a lot longer than there was a government here. To exclude my people from benefitting from construction contracts or royalties from the sale of hydro is an additional insult.
I know that only a very few Innu lucky enough to partner with some big non-Innu company will benefit from obtaining contracts to construct the massive hydro project.
The rest of us unlucky Innu and non-Innu will just have to suffer the loss.