Parks Canada and the Innu First Nation of Ekuanitshit collaborate on new initiatives to perpetuate Innu culture

News release

The new initiatives will revive Innu culture from one generation to the next in the islands

May 25, 2023                          Ekuanitshit, Quebec                      Parks Canada

The protection of Innu culture, the transfer of knowledge between generations, and the protection of cultural and natural resources for future generations are at the heart of the relationship between Parks Canada and Innu communities that have a special bond with Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve. 

During a community event organized by the Innu First Nation of Ekuanitshit held yesterday, Mr. Jean-Charles Piétacho, Chief of the Nation, along with Mr. Hugues Michaud, Executive Director, Quebec and Nunavut at Parks Canada, were pleased to announce an Indigenous guardians initiative developed over the past year by the Nitassinan Guardians Project Team of the Innu Council of Ekuanitshit, in collaboration with key community stakeholders and Parks Canada.

Parks Canada's recent acquisition of l’île du Havre de Mingan, named Ekuanitshiu Minishtiku in Innu aimun, was also announced at the event. The island, with an area of 1.5 square kilometres, is significantly important to members of the Innu First Nation of Ekuanitshit and is one of the few private islands that could not be annexed to the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve when it was created in 1984.

This acquisition will promote the development of cultural activities by the Innu of Ekuanitshit and maintain the traditional activities practiced by the members of the First Nation for generations. The Innu Council of Ekuanitshit will play a decisive role in the development of the future management and use of the island.

Furthermore, the implementation of an Indigenous guardians program at the National Park Reserve, in collaboration with the Innu First Nation of Ekuanitshit, has been granted. This initiative, and the acquisition of the island, provide opportunities for the First Nation and Parks Canada to advance several common priorities, including the enhancement of Innu culture, the economic development of the First Nation, and the commitments made by the Government of Canada to protect 30 percent of terrestrial and freshwater, coastal and marine environments by 2030. 



Parks Canada seized a historic opportunity by acquiring l’Île du Havre de Mingan/Ekuanitshiu Minishtiku. Opportunities to collaborate with the Innu First Nation of Ekuanitshit are at the heart of this acquisition. The new initiatives being developed are part of the vision that guided the establishment of the national park reserve at the time of its establishment and the First Nation's desire to protect this unique territory for present and future generations.”

The Honourable Steven Guilbeault
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada 


"After a long portage, it is now up to us to protect l’Île du Havre de Mingan, which has protected us for decades, and to perpetuate our presence alongside it. Its protection will be ensured by our Innu guardians of the Nitassinan Islands, as perpetuated by our ancestors before us.”

Jean-Charles Piétacho
Chief of the Innu First Nation of Ekuanitshit


Quick facts

  • L'Île du Havre de Mingan/Ekuanitshiu Minishtiku is located at the western end of the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve, about 500 metres from the shore, just across from the Innu community of Ekuanitshit and the Maison de la culture innue. The Innu of Ekuanitshit practice traditional hunting and gathering activities as well as cultural activities on the island

  • The ecosystems on l’Île du Havre de Mingan/Ekuanitshiu Minishtiku are like those found in the rest of the Mingan Archipelago and are exposed to the same threats posed by climate change. The presence of rare or threatened plants and wildlife has been reported. 

  • The island also stands out from the rest of the archipelago by the presence of an archaeological site, testifying to the period of contact between Europeans and Indigenous peoples. Among the artifacts recovered to date, some demonstrate the continued use of the island by the Innu, including a Basque kiln and the remains of the first fur trading post built by Louis Joliet under French rule, and operated by his wife.

  • Each Indigenous guardians initiative at Parks Canada places is co-developed with Indigenous partners. They then lead the initiative with the support and contribution of Parks Canada. These initiatives help maintain and revitalize their connections to the lands, waters and ice that support the knowledge, law and governance systems that underpin Indigenous stewardship practices.

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Kaitlin Power
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Olivia Jomphe
External Relations Manager, Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve
Parks Canada / Government of Canada
418-538-3331 ext. 263

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