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Our Heritage
The People of Labrador
There are four distinct and separate cultures in the region: the Inuit, the Innu, the Metis and the Settlers. In Labrador, the Innu, the Inuit and Metis are referred to as aboriginal people. There is also a French presence in Labrador West and the Straights area, due to close proximity with the province of Quebec.
 
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Innu of Labrador as depicted by Sheilagh Harvey
Innu Nation
Archaeological evidence suggests that the Innu ancestors inhabited Labrador 7000 years ago. There are two distinct groups of Innu, the Mushuau Innu who are located in Natuashish, a northern community, and the Sheshatshiu Innu who are located in the town of Sheshatshiu, within Central Labrador. These are the only two permanent Innu settlements in Labrador. Both groups derived from their ancestral caribou hunters. Many European settlers called them Indians, but they refer to themselves as Innu, which translates as "human being."

The Innu of Central Labrador speak Innu-aimun. This dialect differs between the two communities of Natuashish and Sheshatshiu, but it does not interfere with communication. The Innu are very proud to have kept their native language.

The Innu way of life is very important to their culture. They were traditionally nomadic. They traveled in the winter throughout Quebec and Labrador to hunt mostly for caribou. In the summer they moved towards the water to fish. Caribou was essential to the Innu culture. It was not only used for food, but also clothing. After a successful hunt the Innu partake in a communal meal. This is essential and honors the spirit of the caribou.
 
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Inuit drum dancing
Nunatsiavut
The Inuit of Labrador have recently settled a long standing land claim and have formed their own government called Nunatsiavut. A large portion of the beneficiaries of this land claim settlement actually live in the Central Labrador region which is outside of the land claim area. The new Torngat National Park is accessible through Nunatsiavut.

For more information visit http://www.nunatsiavut.com

Want to visit the Torngat Mountain National Park while you are here in Labrador? Here is a bit of information on how to get to Torgnat National Park.
 
NunatuKavut
In Labrador, Métis are people of a mixed decent. The Métis of Labrador are unique, having ancestors of Inuit, Innu, French, Scottish, Irish and English origins. Their use of land throughout the bountiful province is stitched together through the communities and their views connecting kinship and friendship.

It is commonly mistaken that the only true Métis are Prairie Métis, however groups of Natives and Settlers in Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Labrador are also Métis. In Labrador, the Métis people are situated in large numbers in central and southern Labrador, from Lake Melville down to Mary's Harbor and various areas of the Straits.

As members of the aboriginal community, like the Innu and Inuit, the Métis had to adopt the aboriginal way of life to survive on the Labrador land. Like many groups in Labrador, being season oriented, the Métis fished and hunted seals and waterfowl in the summer, while hunting and trapping in the forested bays and lands in the winter.

In 1941, many Inuit and Métis families ended up moving temporarily and permanently to Goose Bay, Labrador, when construction of the air base was first underway. The Métis families chose this resettlement, looking for a new way of life. In the 1960's, the Newfoundland and Labrador government closed many small Métis settlements and centralized the people in villages around Lake Melville which proved to offer greater opportunities for families. The Labrador Métis are now advocating that their aboriginal roots be acknowledged by federal and provincial governments.

For more information, visit The NunatuKavut website.
 
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Settler Family (larger version)
Settlers of Labrador
Settler is a name which was placed upon people of "non- aboriginal" ancestry who made Labrador their home. The name was strongly acknowledged by the aboriginal groups to assert their own cultural identity. Later, after settling in Central Labrador, the Settlers called themselves "Labradorians." These people became accustomed to the land and followed the techniques and adaptations of the local peoples, such as the Innu and Inuit.

In the 1760's Moravians made their way to the northern regions of Labrador and built missions there. They took part in the various industries and established themselves permanently.

Not all settlers were of European decent, but many were. They came across the Atlantic to take advantage of the bountiful fishing grounds and new-untouched land. The land was full of animals that could be used for fur trading and the water overflowed with fish.
 
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