Quebec’s Innu chief left the Muskrat Falls inquiry without testifying Thursday morning, levelling harsh criticism because Innu translation services were not arranged for his testimony.
« My language, my life and my culture are not being respected, » Jean-Charles Piétacho said through a French translator after the dramatic incident.
« I would like to speak in my language. My second language, French, is not my language. What I’m going to say here will not come from my heart. »
LeBlanc says he understand the position of the Quebec chief, and arrangements will be made at a future date to hear his testimony, with Innu translation services.
Inquiry commissioner Richard LeBlanc offered an apology before Piétacho left, and offered to delay the chief’s testimony until Innu translation services are available.
The inquiry was paused for a brief recess and discussions happened behind closed doors, but Piétacho ultimately decided to leave.
Inquiry co-counsel Barry Learmonth said attempts to arrange Innu translation services were unsuccessful, so the decision was made to use the chief’s second language, French.
LeBlanc said there was an « error made » in not being able to arrange Innu translation.
« We understood French could be used » for Piétacho’s testimony, LeBlanc said, but added, « I appreciate the position of the witness. »
LeBlanc said arrangements will be made to hear his testimony, with Innu translation services.
With files from Terry Roberts