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Industrialization of the region in the 20th century and the end of nomadic life

In the Innu's ancient Nitassinan, the 20th century was marked by the development of the pulp and paper industry (Portneuf, Pentecôte, Clarke City, Shelter Bay, Baie-Comeau...), hydroelectricity (the temporary settlements of Labrieville, Lac Louise and Micoua), and mines and metallurgy (Havre-Saint-Pierre, Sept-Îles, Schefferville, Port-Cartier, Gagnon, Fermont). These industries would forever change the face of the Côte-Nord.

For the Innu, these industrial developments would eventually put enormous pressure on the land and its resources. This pressure came from the use of rivers for floating wood (Escoumins, Bersimis, Manicouagan, Franquelin, Pentecôte, Rivière-aux-Rochers, Sainte-Marguerite), from harnessing these rivers or others (Outardes, Magpie), or from creating open-pit mines on the migratory sites of barren-ground caribou (the Shefferville region in Québec, Labrador City and Wabush in Labrador).

In the middle of the last century, the federal government also set up many services for Québec Natives in general, and the Innu in particular. Among other things, these policies brought general access to primary education (the Malioténam Residential School opened in 1952), as well as health care and family allowances.

It goes without saying that such measures, along with salaried jobs for several Innu, for all extent and purposes put an end to the nomadic life-cycle still practiced by a certain number of families for whom hunting and fishing remained essential activities.

With the exception of Les Escoumins (1892) and Sept-Îles, which was founded in 1906 and whose territory would be expanded in 1925 and 2007, the most recent Innu reserves appeared only in the last half of the 20th century. The founding of Mani-utenam (1949) and Lac John/ Matimekush (1960 and 1968) correspond to the period of iron ore exploitation in the Schefferville region. To the East, the communities of Mingan (Ekuanitshit), Natashquan (Nutashkuan) and La Romaine (Unaman-shipu) were officially founded in 1949, 1952 and 1956. Finally, the people who settled in Unaman-shipu decided to go back to their original lands on the Saint-Augustin River, founding the village of Pakut-shipu whose first houses were built in 1971.

There communities were less affected by the industrial development that reached the western part of the Côte-Nord. They were either connected to the road network (Highway 138) more recently, or they remained isolated and were consequently under less pressure from the White majority to assimilate. A greater proportion of families in these communities remained relatively dependent on the natural resources of the coast and the interior.

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