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Innu

The Innu are the indigenous people of an area they refer to as Nitassinan, which comprises most of the Quebec-Labrador peninsula in Eastern Canada. Their current population is between 15,000 and 20,000. They are known to have lived on these lands as hunter-gatherers for several thousand years, living in tents made of animal skins. Their most important resource is the caribou, and the animal is culturally very significant to them. The Innu language is Innu-aimun[?].

They are sometimes divided into two tribes; the Naskapi, who live along the North shore of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, and the Montagnais, who live farther inland. They prefer, however, their own collective name for themselves, Innu. They are often confused with the unrelated Inuits, who live much further North, because of a similar sounding name.

From the 1950s on, the Canadian government[?] and the Catholic Church attempted to "civilise" the Innu, inducing them to settle in fixed encampments and to abandon their nomadic lifestyle. Before long, life in these artificially constructed settlements became marred by extremely high levels of alcoholism, petrol-sniffing amongst children, violence, and suicide. Between 1975 and 1995 the Innu settlements averaged 178 suicides per 100,000 persons per year. This is more than twelve times the Canadian average.

Survival International have alleged that the Canadian government's policy of relocating the Innu away from their ancestral lands and preventing them from practising their ancient way of life is in contravention of international law, and they have drawn parallels with the Chinese government's treatment of Tibetans.

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