The Grand Council of the Crees

Great Whale Environmental Assessment

Great Whale Environmental Assessment Community Consultation: Final Report For Chisasibi Volume 1

Posted: 0000-00-00

[These interviews with hunters, trappers and other residents of Chisasibi were recorded for the Grand Council of the Crees/CRA, by Douglas Nakashima and Marie Rou?, and published in a Final Report in August 1994, from which they are extracted. They give the most telling account of the dramatic effects of the James Bay Hydro project on the lives of the Cree people, and also are a treasure-house of information about Cree culture, and Cree attitudes to the land, animals and nature. [This document deals with Traditional Ecological Knowledge, or TEK, about animals, trees and the fruits of the land.

[Note: The line between paragraphs indicates a new speaker].

TRADITIONAL ECOLOGICAL KNOWLEDGE: ANIMALS & PLANTS

3.1. BIG GAME

CARIBOU

I saw caribou that were very sick and looking pitiful. Before the white man touched anything, no one ever saw game this sick. Wherever he works, when things grow back, it attracts the animals and they eat there, including the small game, all game... it happens that these things that grow on the ground look good and the animal doesn't know it shouldn't eat this. The thing that poisons the animal is under the soil. This comes from the different kinds of work "they" do there. This is what he does to everything. This is what happens to the game. Even the fur-bearing animals have been affected by this. Everything has been affected, including caribou and moose. This is what has happened to them and what they look like.


For us, no game will ever flourish again in the inland region. The caribou cannot stay there anymore. It does not look as it once did. Everything has been affected. He still says that nothing has been affected. He still says that nothing bad has happened to the game. The caribou cannot come from where they used to come from. Long ago, there were places that the caribou liked very much and when it came back, it looked for those same places, so that it could once again go to the same places. When the caribou found these places, they were ruined. It cannot come back to those places. It is because it cannot stay in those places where it used to stay.


Q: Those big trucks do they scare the animals?

A: Yes, they scare the animals and they have killed many animals. One truck hit and ran over a caribou on purpose and there were witnesses. What do the whitemen think when they destroy the land because they like to hunt too.


Here in Chisasibi we see the river. People can't go out when there is ice. People used to hunt here in this river and across the river, but no more. We still know that there are caribou across the river. We still see them from here and it's going to be the same for the people of Whapmagoostui. They won't be able to cross their river or hunt. From where their community is they won't be able to cross their river.


Life was very hard for people to survive in the past and today it's still very hard because everything is so scarce. I can say that everything is scarce. If it wasn't for the caribou I don't think we would have anything. The animals are gone.


I am talking now about the loss of land. The animals of the surface of the land will not always be so plentiful. The caribou will become less numerous too. It will be like for the moose, too and also small game. I have seen a lack of animals in the past, on the surface of the land, food that could have been eaten.


Today, though, big game like the caribou and moose seem to have sickness. I know of at least four moose we killed that we could not eat. There was something wrong with their insides. We were told what it would look like if something was wrong with, this was true for the beaver also. We were told not to eat the intestines and the liver. We knew that the beaver had something wrong with it, so we did not eat it. I know of four moose that we could not eat. The insides were white. The liver was white and it looked wet. I did not want to eat it, myself. I would not ever eat a moose that looked like that. I saw moose killed from a very young age. I never saw this sickness. The caribou and moose get food from the water. The moose stands in water to eat. This sickness comes from those who have flooded the land. This is why this happens to the large game. The fish, too, is affected by this. It is pitiful for us to see the animals that are inedible. I wonder what he would think if he saw the things he has ruined, the food that he has ruined. Us Cree people were given this food to eat.


When this dam was built, right away the destruction of game started. The first thing I will talk about are the animals that run on the ground. They were killed by this project right away. Many were killed on the road. This is what made it lie on the ground (die). All kinds of game were affected... This road was built because they wanted to build a dam on the Chisasibi River. This is still going on since this road was built. The game is always being killed by this "road-to-build-dams". The different kinds of game are still always being killed by this road. The caribou came after the road was built. It has been harmed this way since it came back. Even the largest game is killed on the road, "the-road-to-build-dams". All kinds of game are killed, even the bear. I saw a bear killed by this road with my own eyes. I have seen caribou that were killed and the other animals that I mentioned. There is only one kind of animal that I didn't see with my eyes, but this person who saw this happen told me about it, and that is moose. The moose is also killed on this road. Today, we all know what year it is, this has not stopped happening to the game. That is how much has been ruined. It was not so long ago, people were talking about many caribou were killed by this road. This is like that everywhere this road goes. Animals are killed everywhere by this "road-to-build-dams". I have seen as far as the last dam on this road, it happens there too.


I also often think that the Cree person cannot hunt as much as he used to, when the caribou comes near. It is like the Cree person cannot touch him. The white people are more numerous, who come here to kill caribou. He does not care where he kills this caribou. He does not pay any attention to make that he does not harm the Cree in any way. For this, too, there is no law for the white man to follow. The signs should be put up for them, to ask him not to shoot at a certain point, that this is someone's territory, especially since he did not live exclusively on hunting.


In the beginning of the summer, that is when we notice how rotten the things they left behind are getting. I have even seen caribou heads that have been left behind. I have not only seen the entrails but also the legs that have been left behind. The garbage dump is not that far from the dam. The white men could have taken their garbage there. One time, last fall, when I was very startled by a caribou head. I was startled because I was not expecting anything. This head was exactly where I was going as I went down the bank. I made a noise since I was not expecting anything to be where I was going. I didn't see anything as I was heading down. This is not the only thing I saw. When the caribou was first here, I took my boys hunting along the road near LG3. We went near there. We saw caribou there and my boys shot some. When we went to get the three caribou they killed, we saw that some white men had got some there that morning. As we went to get the three caribou, one of my boys said, "There is another one." I looked over and I did see another caribou lying there. It was just south of the ones that my boys had shot. I asked my boys what could have happened. I said maybe they had hit it by mistake. We went to get it. As I went to get it, I could see marks that it had been dragged there from the road toward some small trees. I think that this was done by a white man because I don't think that a Cree person would do this to a caribou. This caribou we saw was not yet bloated from lying there. I took it and gutted it. We saw some people passing by so we stopped them. They were heading back towards the river. We told them to take this caribou with them and give it someone who was in the community. If we had not seen this caribou, it would have just laid there. This story I am telling, is not the only time I had seen this happen. I had seen caribou on two other occasions just shot and left behind. I could.tell they had been deliberately shot and not just accidentally shot. By the time I saw these other two, they were in no condition to be salvaged.


I heard that there were caribou on some islands. I know that they probably died, since they were seen on land that was left dry in high water. They must have tried to get to dry land but the trees probably got in his way. This probably happened to young caribou too.


And with the moose I have heard that sometimes there is something wrong with it (the meat). It's only around the Chisasibi area that they found out about the moose and caribou. I guess it's from the hydro lines or something, because usually it's along the highway. Although sometimes they have found moose or caribou meat being spoiled in other areas. Here in Chisasibi one time we saw a lot of dead caribou and we didn't know what caused them to die. I even heard that someone killed a moose and they couldn't eat it because the meat was spoiled. They think that it came from the hydro lines.


There area few moose to be found around this lake (a lake near LG-4). We think that there are some there. Sometimes, there are places in the bush that burned long ago that are a very nice habitat for moose. Sometimes, the moose is very close to the water's edge. When the white people come, they see the moose and go to where they are. When a moose hears something, it starts to run away. He is then not found where it used to be found. This is not good for the caribou or other game either, to always hear something. They just run all the time. It goes elsewhere, at times, so it does not have as much meat on it. You can taste it if a moose or caribou has ran for a long time. It is more so for the moose. I guess that it is because it is heavier. When it moves around a lot or if it walks around a lot, it's natural taste changes. It tastes PIICHISCHAAWAAU. (meat tastes different because the moose has been running hard). This is how it tastes when it is always bothered by something. This is what we found where we hunt, when we talk about the game.


One thing that I don't like to see is dead animals lying around, especially caribou. I remember the first time I saw a caribou. It was a very good sight and now it's very sad to see caribou or any other kind of animal lying around dead. It's not a very good sight.


And with the caribou, when they first arrived, we never used to find dead caribou anywhere. Only if it was wounded then we would find them. But it is so different today, since the white man started to hunt. You see dead caribou everywhere. They just leave them anywhere. I wonder if that's the way the white man leaves his territory; the way he leaves the caribou and other garbage in our area.

MOOSE

I saw a small moose that was brought to the camp that had been very cold (frozen), since the white man started working up here. It looked like it was still standing and it just got cold. When they brought it, it showed that it was inedible. The mother must have had sickness before this small moose was born and that was what killed it.


There used to be a lot of game animals where we used to hunt, lots of moose and beaver. We used to kill lots and we were happy. And now we have nothing. Everything is scarce. It's all Hydro's fault, he doesn't give us anything in return. We are not the only people affected by this. There are a lot of people here in Chisasibi. Their hunting grounds are destroyed. It's all under water, even in places where they didn't spoil the land, it still affects the animals and everything around it. It looks as if Hydro is trying to bury us alive.


You can see the land destroyed right underneath where the power lines run. We know that some moose are harmed by this if they stay around under where the power lines run.


I am talking now about the loss of land. The animals of the surface of the land will not always be so plentiful. The caribou will become less numerous too. It will be like for the moose, too and also small game. I have seen a lack of animals in the past, on the surface of the land, food that could have been eaten.


Today, though, big game like the caribou and moose seem to have sickness. I know of at least four moose we killed that we could not eat. There was something wrong with their insides. We were told what it would look like if something was wrong with it. This was true for the beaver also. We were told not to eat the intestines and the liver. We knew that the beaver had something wrong with it, so we did not eat it. I know of four moose that we could not eat. The insides were white. The liver was white and it looked wet. I did not want to eat it, myself. I would not ever eat a moose that looked like that. I saw moose killed from a very young age. I never saw this sickness. The caribou and moose get food from the water. The moose stands in water to eat. This sickness comes from those who have flooded the land. This is why this happens to the large game. The fish, too, is affected by this. It is pitiful for us td see the animals that are inedible. I wonder what he would think if he saw the things he has ruined, the food that he has ruined. Us Cree people were given this food to eat.


When this dam was built, right away the destruction of game started. The first thing I will talk about are the animals that run on the ground. They were killed by this project right away. Many were killed on the road. This is what made it lie on the ground (die). All kinds of game were affected I have seen caribou that were killed and the other animals that I mentioned. There is only one kind of animal that I didn't see with my eyes, but this person who saw this happen told me about it, and that is moose. The moose is also killed on this road. Today, we all know what year it is, this has not stopped happening to the game. That is how much has been ruined. It was not so long ago, people were talking about many caribou were killed by this road. This is like that everywhere this road goes. Animals are killed everywhere by this "road-to-build-dams". I have seen as far as the last dam on this road, it happens there too.


And with the moose I have heard that sometimes there is something wrong with it (the meat). It's only around the Chisasibi area that they found out about the moose and caribou. I guess it's from the hydro lines or something, because usually it's along the highway. Although sometimes they have found moose or caribou meat being spoiled in other areas. Here in Chisasibi one time we saw a lot of dead caribou and we didn't know what caused them to die. I even heard that someone killed a moose and they couldn't eat it because the meat was spoiled. They think that it came from the hydro lines.


There are a few moose to be found around this lake (a lake near LG-4). We think that there are some there. Sometimes, there are places in the bush that burned long ago that are a very nice habitat for moose. Sometimes, the moose is very close to the water's edge. When the white people come, they see the moose and go to where they are. When a moose hears something, it starts to run away. He is then not found where it used to be found. This is not good for the caribou or other game either, to always hear something. They just run all the time. It goes elsewhere, at times, so it does not have as much meat on it. You can taste it if a moose or caribou has ran for a long time. It is more so for the moose. I guess that it is because it is heavier. When it moves around a lot or if it walks around a lot, it's natural taste changes. It tastes PIICHISCHAAWAAU (meat tastes different because the moose has been running hard). This is how it tastes when it is always bothered by something. This is what we found where we hunt, when we talk about the game.


What happened to LG-l, LG-2, LG-3. Great impact on the people; not only the people, but also the waterfowl, the animals.

Now LG-4 is a different thing. That's where my father used to take me. The rapids itself is called Little Caribou Rapids. There's a legend behind that, how it got its name. They say that where the rapids are is so narrow that even a small caribou could leap across. On both sides it was so steep. I've seen it myself and up the river, just before they started building the dam itself, I had the pleasure of occupying that area with my father along with X. We made a log cabin across the river, on the north side. A great place, a lot of game, moose, beaver, especially whitebird... especially whitebird. During the wintertime people from our community used to come up just for hunting whitebird, spend time with us, just for the whitebird. It was so great... feeding areas, willows along the river, were so beautiful. Like I said, we built a cabin, a log cabin. That's one of our hunting camps that was really destroyed by the flood. My grandmother was there and my oldest son, he was only a small baby, less than 1 year old. And when I told him about it ... of course he doesn't remember ... I can only tell him about it.

And north from the area that we're talking about was another big lake for fishing, lake trout and even whitebird, there was an area where four different rivers meet and there was a lot of brush, willows, for whitebird. That's completely underwater and the lake I was talking about. There, that was my father's territory. That speaks for itself in what my father did, taking care of the land.

BEAR

As I said before, everything is affected by the projects. The bear was one of the best types of meat that one could eat, but we don't eat it anymore... The meat doesn't taste good. It's because the bear eats a lot of garbage, so that's why we don't eat the bear meat anymore.

3.2. FUR-BEARING ANIMALS

I see so much damage to the land from water. When the dam was closed to trap water, nobody knows how many animals were killed by the flooding. He killed all the water animals, like the beaver, otter and all those who hibernate in the winter. All those who are in dens all winter were all killed by him. All the land animals were also killed in the flooding. He will not be telling the truth if he says he knows animals. He does not know animals. The Cree person knows the animal, he lives right on the land, he survived on the land.


When this dam was built, right away the destruction of game started. The first thing I will talk about are the animals that run on the ground. They were killed by this project right away. Many were killed on the road. This is what made it lie on the ground (die). All kinds of game were affected. All this fur that we caught was the way we made money. For any other activity, there was no money needed. That is what I wanted to talk about first and that is the fur. This was the thing that was most severely affected. We saw all kinds of fur-bearing animals like the beaver and other animals that live in the water, killed on the road. This road was built because they wanted to build a dam on the Chisasibi River. This is still going on since this road was built. The game is always being killed by this "road-to-build-dams".


We blame Hydro Quebec for destroying and flooding the land. They are to blame for the effects it has had on the hunting and the way we now cannot survive from the land. Many times, we have seen dead animals that drowned. Even the beaver was found dead on the reservoir. Even the fur-bearing animals were found dead. They used to find animals that were starving on the islands on the reservoir. Even on the small islands.


Q: What do you think of the animals that are from the water?

A: Well, I can say that they are slowly disappearing too. As for the beaver, we hardly have anymore beaver in some areas. For the other fur-bearing animals, we can hardly catch them anymore. Although we still try to trap them, we hardly have any luck. It's because there are hardly any around. Also, if we do trap them they are not as good as before; in everything including the fur and meat. I guess it affects them too because of the contaminated water.

BEAVER

There used to be a lot of game animals where we used to hunt lots of moose and beaver. We used to kill lots and we were happy. And now we have nothing. Everything is scarce. It's all Hydro's fault, he doesn't give us anything in return. We are not the only people affected by this. There are a lot of people here in Chisasibi. Their hunting grounds are destroyed. It's all under water, even in places where they didn't spoil the land, it still affects the animals and everything around it. It looks as if Hydro is trying to bury us alive.


It is true in what I am saying; the animals that we used to hunt are getting scarce and the beaver too. There used to be lots of beaver and now it's all gone and its all because of this Hydro project. Everything is affected by it.


Before this land was touched, before it was destroyed, Cree people always made a living from it. This was even before I hunted there myself. There was someone who was in charge of this hunting territory, even if there were many men there, there was someone in charge of all the hunting. It was like people just took turns. People were told they could not hunt the beaver, but they could hunt other game. They were trying to be extremely careful with the beaver. That is how things were.


Today, though, big game like the caribou and moose seem to have sickness. I know of at least four moose we killed that we could not eat. There was something wrong with their insides. We were told what it would look like if something was wrong with, this was true for the beaver also. We were told not to eat the intestines and the liver. We knew that the beaver had something wrong with it, so we did not eat it. I know of four moose that we could not eat. The insides were white. The liver was white and it looked wet. I did not want to eat it, myself. I would not ever eat a moose that looked like that. I saw moose killed from a very young age. I never saw this sickness. The caribou and moose get food from the water. The moose stands in water to eat. This sickness comes from those who have flooded the land. This is why this happens to the large game. The fish, too, is affected by this. It is pitiful for us to see the animals that are inedible. I wonder what he would think if he saw the things he has ruined, the food that he has ruined. Us Cree people were given this food to eat.


When they finished making the dams, the Cree people, who did not know what was really going to happen, were told that land would be flooded. They released this water in the winter. At this time, so many beaver and the game that lived under the ground were killed. This was the beginning of the scarcity of game, that Cree people used to live on. The beaver was very plentiful at that time, when the land was flooded, when it was first flooded. This was in the winter. This water rose higher all winter. The animals that were under ground could not escape when the water reached them. This was the beginning of the time for the beaver to be scarce. This was what happened. It seemed that after that there was hardly any beaver. I used to know how much beaver they were killing in the different territories. This territory that was flooded was the best territory for beaver to find food to eat and also the best places to live. I knew right away why the beaver became more scarce. It was because their best places to eat were now under water.


There were always a lot of beaver there, it was so plentiful. People ate this besides ptarmigan. There was also porcupine. These were some of the game that people lived on. I knew that when the Caniapiscau post was there, there were many graves there. They are now all under water.


All the area that was flooded with LG2 reservoir has completely destroyed where the ptarmigan and beaver used to be caught. There used to be a lot there. They will never be found there again, even if they could ever be there again. We know that there are cycles that go up and down for certain game. This always happened before. I remember, in the past, that there were times when the ptarmigan and rabbit were numerous. I think that this place has been destroyed, this place where it used to multiply. It was like a garden that belonged to somebody. It was like that for life to continue. It was decided that things would grow and multiply, including all game. This will never be able to be used again. It seems to many that there is no more ptarmigan. It is because he knows that his food has been destroyed. It is like that for the rabbit too. I remember times when the rabbit was numerous and abundant. There were so many that they were like a flock of ptarmigan running around. It was like that when I saw rabbits. I saw this in the LG2 area. This is all lost now, like it is disappearing. This is again especially true for the beaver. It is like that in the area where I hunted. There is water everywhere the beaver used to be. There is only a little bit of land showing.


I see so much damage to the land from water. When the dam was closed to trap water, nobody knows how many animals were killed by the flooding. He killed all the water animals, like the beaver, otter and all those who hibernate in the winter. All those who are in dens all winter were all killed by him. All the land animals were also killed in the flooding. He will not be telling the truth if he says he knows animals. He does not know animals. The Cree person knows the animal, he lives right on the land, he survived on the land.


I wanted to speak about the flooded land. I was there as it was being flooded 50 I saw it happen. It was a very disturbing sight. We used to trap beaver in this area and when the land was to be flooded, we couldn?t kill them all beforehand. When we would check our traps we would see some were under water. It was mid-winter and we saw signs of beaver who had tried to make new dams against the water. This must have been a pathetic effort for the beaver. This must have been the same for all animals who live in the water and land. Every year we see flooding in the south, we see houses floating in the water and people who have to sit on top of their house. This must have been the way it was for the beaver. He suffered because of the white man. The white man never expresses regret for making the animals suffer this way. When a Cree says something, the white man does not believe him because he feels he knows everything through his studies. I can tell him he is not telling the truth.


I spoke to someone who has a territory north of here. We know that the rivers rise in the fall. He says that his beaver lodges are completely underwater. He knows beaver are killed by this. When I think of the future, I think of him, his children and his future grandchildren. As long as this dam is here, this situation will exist where he wants to make a living.


When this dam was built, right away the destruction of game started. The first thing I will talk about are the animals that run on the ground. They were killed by this project right away. Many were killed on the road. This is what made it lie on the ground (die). All kinds of game were affected. All this fur that we caught was the way we made money. For any other activity, there was no money needed. That is what I wanted to talk about first and that is the fur. This was the thing that was most severely affected. We saw all kinds of fur-bearing animals like the beaver and other animals that live in the water, killed on the road. This road was built because they wanted to build a dam on the Chisasibi River. This is still g9ing on since this road was built. The game is always being killed by this "road-to-build-dams".


When I saw how thick the ice was and how high it was on the trees, I thought about it as we drove on. I thought that there must have been many animals killed by this, including the beaver, because he must have already made his lodge and also the muskrat who lives under the ice in the winter. Looking at the rapid decline of the water level, he must not have been able to reach his lodge, this animal that lives under the water, including the muskrat and otter, since it also lives under water. The animal who lives under the water wants, at times, to be on dry land, for a short time. If he cannot be on dry land for little while, the water gets to be too much for it. Even if he was made to always live in the water, like the beaver. We know that the beaver, muskrat, otter and mink live under the water. I just want to tell a little bit about animals that live under the water, even if they were made to live in the water, he is still affected by water.


Every kind of game including geese and those animals that are on the ground, this large game, like caribou, moose and caribou and every kind of fur like the beaver, otter, mink and marten and fox also the small game like rabbit and ptarmigan-there are more than one sort of ptarmigan, has all been affected from what I can see from the destruction of the land. Today, there are hardly any rabbits. I know why this happens, since so much land has been destroyed. It is the same for the beaver, it seems that there are hardly any now. It is the same for the porcupine, it seemed that it started to disappear almost right away. It seems that there is hardly any game now. It is getting more and more scarce, even game that used to be plentiful. That is what I have seen. This is why I am talking about this.


As I went toward X who was unloading our things from the canoe, there were not many things, mainly our bags with blankets, there was a beaver there in the canoe. I asked him what he was doing with it. He was not supposed to get any beaver at that time of the year. He said that it was almost dead when he saw it. It was floating up to the top of the water so he then threw rocks at it. He was sure that it would not make it alive, that is why he did it. The beaver must have been caught in the rapids and couldn't reach the shore for a long time, since the water current was so fast. This happened because he was in the water for too long. It was too much for him, since he couldn't go on land, because of the rapids. He killed this beaver because he was sure it would not make it alive anyway. This is what happens to animals even though they live in water. The fish is the only one who can always live in the water. If these animals can't get to dry land for a while, they will still be killed by water. This is what I thought of as I saw this water that was released when the gates were opened. I was sure that at that time of the year, the beaver and muskrat must have made their lodges by then. They were probably killed by the ice.


The only animal that I haven't heard about is the beaver so far. But we know that hydro still kills the beaver because I heard that they found dead beaver on the reservoir. The beaver drowned because the water level is way high at times and sometimes it's very low. This is not good for the beaver, so all this affects the beaver.


We cannot drink the water and we cannot eat so much of what we used to eat. We have lost so much, in the way of food. We have lost beaver and other game. This is all gone, that which we used to use to live.


And I have heard many people of Chisasibi, the people we call coasters. Their hunting grounds have been flooded. Lots of water has entered the lakes, and the beavers have drowned because of the rise in the water levels. They cannot hunt some of the game on their hunting grounds. And the inlanders too, we cannot hunt anymore because of the destruction of the land.


There is nothing that is not affected by these Hydro projects especially the animals and their survival. A lot of things have disappeared since the flooding of the land. The beaver was one source of income by selling the fur, but there is hardly anymore beaver. All of the animals and fish that survived on water died because of the contaminated water.


Last fall I trapped an otter and usually by this time of the year, the otter is usually good and fat. But instead, this time there was no way we could eat it. I was only able to take the fur and I had to throw away the meat because of the way it looked. If I had not caught it at that time, I am sure it would have starved to death. This all comes from the water and land being contaminated. The beaver is the same. Some beaver, when trapped, look as if they are about to starve. They are very lean but usually at this time of the year the beaver is all big and fat. All this comes from the reservoir. The water level is too high for the things that are put in the water. The same goes for the fish and everything that survives on water and land. It is greatly affected by all this.


The beaver was one of the most important game because of the value of the fur. But now there is hardly any beaver because of the hydro dams. The beaver can't survive where there used to be a lot of them living. Everything was plentiful for animals to survive on. So we have lost a great deal of the things we survived on from the land.


We blame Hydro Quebec for destroying and flooding the land. They are to blame for the effects it has had on the hunting and the way we now cannot survive from the land. Many times, we have seen dead animals that drowned. Even the beaver was found dead on the reservoir. Even the fur-bearing animals were found dead. They used to find animals that were starving on the islands on the reservoir. Even on the small islands.


Q: What do you think of the animals that are from the water?

A: Well, I can say that they are slowly disappearing too. As for the beaver, we hardly have anymore beaver in some areas. For the other fur-bearing animals, we can hardly catch them anymore. Although we still try to trap them, we hardly have any luck. It's because there are hardly any around. Also, if we do trap them they are not as good as before; in everything including the fur and meat. I guess it affects them too because of the contaminated water.


Yes, but since my father died, or after the impact on our territories, there weren't that many beaver lodges. Of course beaver habitats were destroyed when they built the reservoirs and that area along the river, Chisasibi, was great habitat, feeding areas, for beaver. And of course, beaver population decreased and it certainly didn't do any good to the surrounding lakes or rivers. We were told to, at least in the territories where they were raising the level of water to trap out beaver. Now, to me, I don't think it seemed -- it didn't do any good. It completely destroyed the whole cycle of what we had before. Maybe we should have relocated the beaver instead of trapping it out.

So somehow, I guess that's how part of our traditional way of life, we somehow lost that part, trapping beaver, 'cause most of the territories in which our fathers had trapped were lost and transportation-wise, it was "kaput"


A. ... Like, they issue, tallymen will issue beaver lodges to their sons or sons-in-law or whoever wanted to hunt in their territory, but they have to ask permission from the tallyman to hunt in their territory.

Q. Then the tallyman says things very precise, like, "You take these lodges"?

A. He would give a certain section to a son or a son-in-law or to a person who wanted to hunt in that territory. They would count the number of lodges or just estimate, you know, how much beaver he had in his territory. And some would, probably take the minimum, like today, there is not so much but before there would be around 15 to 20 to each individual hunter.

Q. 15 to 20 lodges?

A. Hmm, hmm. 15 to 20 lodges. But now it's not so much now, today, since the impact of the projects. Right now, I would guess about 5 (lodges). I guess it depends on the tallyman, how many lodges he has.


And LG-2, there are I think about 5 or 6 traplines that are completely under water. We can no longer hunt where we used to hunt before. That's lost, their beaver's lost. Like I said, whitebird, beaver, waterfowl that used to feed in that area are completely lost. Now you see only islands, mountain tops.


What happened to LG-l, LG-2, LG-3. Great impact on the people; not only the people, but also the waterfowl, the animals.

Now LG-4 is a different thing. That's where my father used to take me. The rapids itself is called Little Caribou Rapids. There's a legend behind that, how it got its name. They say that where the rapids are is so narrow that even a small caribou could leap across. On both sides it was so steep. I've seen it myself and up the river, just before they started building the dam itself, I had the pleasure of occupying that area with my father along with X. We made a log cabin across the river, on the north side. A great place, a lot of game, moose, beaver, especially whitebird... especially whitebird. During the wintertime people from our community used to come up just for hunting whitebird, spend time with us, just for the whitebird. It was so great... feeding areas, willows along the river, were so beautiful. Like I said, we built a cabin, a log cabin. That's one of our hunting camps that was really destroyed by the flood. My grandmother was there and my oldest son, he was only a small baby, less than 1 year old. And when I told him about it .. of course he doesn't remember ... I can only tell him about it.

And north from the area that we're talking about was another big lake for fishing, lake trout and even whitebird, there was an area where four different rivers meet and there was a lot of brush, willows, for whitebird. That's completely underwater and the lake I was talking about. There, that was my father's territory. That speaks for itself in what my father did, taking care of the land.

MINK

When I saw how thick the ice was and how high it was on the trees, I thought about it as we drove on. I thought that there must have been many animals killed by this, including the beaver, because he must have already made his lodge and also the muskrat who lives under the ice in the winter. Looking at the rapid decline of the water level, he must not have been able to reach his lodge, this animal that lives under the water, including the muskrat and otter, since it also lives under water. The animal who lives under the water wants, at times, to be on dry land, for a short time. If he cannot be on dry land for little while, the water gets to be too much for it. Even if he was made to always live in the water, like the beaver. We know that the beaver, muskrat, otter and mink live under the water.

I just want to tell a little bit about animals that live under the water, even if they were made to live in the water, he is still affected by water.

MUSKRAT

When I saw how thick the ice was and how high it was on the trees, I thought about it as we drove on. I thought that there must have been many animals killed by this, including the beaver, because he must have already made his lodge and also the muskrat who lives under the ice in the winter. Looking at the rapid decline of the water level, he must not have been able to reach his lodge, this animal that lives under the water, including the muskrat and otter, since it also lives under water. The animal who lives under the water wants, at times, to be on dry land, for a short time. If he cannot be on dry land for little while, the water gets to be too much for it. Even if he was made to always live in the water, like the beaver. We know that the beaver, muskrat, otter and mink live under the water. I just want to tell a little bit about animals that live under the water, even if they were made to live in the water, he is still affected by water.

OTTER

I see so much damage to the land from water. When the dam was closed to trap water, nobody knows how many animals were killed by the flooding. He killed all the water animals, like the beaver, otter and all those who hibernate in the winter. All those who are in dens all winter were all killed by him. All the land animals were also killed in the flooding. He will not be telling the truth if he says he knows animals. He does not know animals. The Cree person knows the animal, he lives right on the land, he survived on the land.


Cree people were able to make a bit of money from their hunting territory. Since the dam was built it showed that this was ruined for him. I'll tell one reason why I say this. When I used to hunt on my territory, I saw tracks of another near a stream. I saw otter tracks. This stream comes into the reservoir where I saw the otter tracks. I followed its tracks to where the stream meets the reservoir. It was gone. I looked at another area of the stream. I didn't see its tracks coming out of the water. That day when I saw its tracks, I had tried to trap it. At this time, it was clear for many days so the tracks I saw were visible so we wouldn't lose its tracks. I used go there every day until it was almost a month that I went there to check on it. I never knew where he came out again, if it came out at all. I could almost be certain that it drowned in the reservoir because it knew where the water lay before the dam. It must have thought that this is where it will come out and he must have lost its place or maybe he drowned before. This water was so deep. This is only one example of how things are destroyed since the dam was built, in the area where I hunted. I was probably not the only one this happened to.


When I saw how thick the ice was and how high it was on the trees, I thought about it as we drove on. I thought that there must have been many animals killed by this, including the beaver, because he must have already made his lodge and also the muskrat who lives under the ice in the winter. Looking at the rapid decline of the water level, he must not have been able to reach his lodge, this animal that lives under the water, including the muskrat and otter, since it also lives under water. The animal who lives under the water wants, at times, to be on dry land, for a short time. If he cannot be on dry land for little while, the water gets to be too much for it. Even if he was made to always live in the water, like the beaver. We know that the beaver, muskrat, otter and mink live under the water. I just want to tell a little bit about animals that live under the water, even if they were made to live in the water, he is still affected by water.


Last fall I trapped an otter and usually by this time of the year, the otter is usually good and fat. But instead, this time there was no way we could eat it. I was only able to take the fur and I had to throw away the meat because of the way it looked. If I had not caught it at that time, I am sure it would have starved to death. This all comes from the water and land being contaminated. The beaver is the same. Some beaver, when trapped, look as if they are about to starve. They are very lean but usually at this time of the year the beaver is all big and fat. All this comes from the reservoir. The water level is too high for the things that are put in the water. The same goes for the fish and everything that survives on water and land. It is greatly affected by all this.


Of course we can't eat any animal or fowl that survive on fish. Like the otter, people used to eat it, but not anymore.

LYNX

They used to find animals that were starving on the islands on the reservoir. Even on the small islands. I remember one time they brought in two lynx that nearly starved to death. This was one animal that Native people looked forward to trap because the fur was easy to sell and the meat was good to eat People hunted the animals for food to eat and for fur to sell. They could then buy whatever they needed. But that's all gone now.

WOLF

A. Yeah. Yeah. Look at the caribou, too. We're seeing the caribou come in places where they've never been before, you know. And even wolves too. Wolves in the wintertime, hey, they're running around.

A. Yeah, they were in the community this winter. One was killed. A lot of the animals are. They're coming to town because there's nothing left to eat.

A. No. There's no food and ?

3.3 SMALL GAME

I am talking now about the loss of land. The animals of the surface of the land will not always be so plentiful. The caribou will become less numerous too. It will be like for the moose, too and also small game. I have seen a lack of animals in the past, on the surface of the land, food that could have been eaten.


Today, everything we survived on has been contaminated, everything in the water has been affected. Even the things we do not eat are contaminated. Nothing has been spared, even birds of all kinds, even the smallest of game. They all have sickness like we have sickness. I heard you talking of all the ways we have been affected. This is all because our land is being destroyed.


As long as this earth remains the earth, we will always have to fight for that which we were given to survive on. We now can see that we cannot eat every kind of game that we used to I can see that so much has been done to the land. He made tributaries on rivers that once had no tributaries. He has harmed even the small game. How can we think that we will ever stop talking about this, to get a little help, concerning the game we hunt? We are talking this way because of the game. We want to hang on it for those we can?t see yet. This is how it is going to be for you too.

RABBIT

Look at us. I remember we used to have lots and lots of rabbit. Now, we never have rabbit. And we hardly get any, unless you go way, way up the road.


Where there used to be ptarmigan or rabbit, there is none. Even in places where there used to be lots there is nothing. Everything that's happening to us comes from these Hydro projects.


When we talk about the Whapmagoostui area, those years were one of the best hunting years I had. I really enjoyed it very much and I don't think I will ever see the place again. I remember we used to make lots of camp in the way we used to travel with lots of people and everybody enjoyed themselves. So we used to get fish as we got further inland. Sometimes there wasn't rabbit or porcupine so our only food would be fish. So that's why I am against the project.


The rabbit used to be very plentiful near the shores of the river. It can no longer be found by the river. It is like it is going further inland. It is like he is looking for a place to eat. I guess the willows he eats now tastes different from what they used to. This is where the rabbit used to be found. Maybe the willows taste different since they are always immersed in water. The willows just drown in the water. They were not always so wet before the river was touched. The rabbit has noticed this now, the one that used to be found near the river. These willows don't have as much green wood on it as before. There is green wood on them, but they are not quite so green. They look like they are drying out even though they are always in water. That is what the rabbit has noticed.


Many things have been destroyed and they cannot grow properly. Things that are grown are no good (so-called "remedial works"). The things that the white people try to grow don't look as nice as what God grew in the first place, these things that he grew for the animals, like for the rabbit to eat. Today there is no rabbit because he doesn't like what the white people have grown for it to eat. It will be like that for all the animals, including the beaver and otter and whatever there is in the water will be killed.


All the area that was flooded with LG2 reservoir has completely destroyed where the ptarmigan and beaver used to be caught. There used to be a lot there. They will never be found there again, even if they could ever be there again. We know that there are cycles that go up and down for certain game. This always happened before. I remember, in the past, that there were times when the ptarmigan and rabbit were numerous. I think that this place has been destroyed, this place where it used to multiply. It was like a garden that belonged to somebody. It was like that for life to continue. It was decided that things would grow and multiply, including all game. This will never be able to be used again. It seems to many that there is no more ptarmigan. It is because he knows that his food has been destroyed. It is like that for the rabbit too. I remember times when the rabbit was numerous and abundant. There were so many that they were like a flock of ptarmigan running around. It was like that when I saw rabbits. I saw this in the LG2 area. This is all lost now, like it is disappearing. This is again especially true for the beaver. It is like that in the area where I hunted. There is water everywhere the beaver used to be. There is only a little bit of land showing.


Every kind of game including geese and those animals that are on the ground, this large game, like caribou, moose and caribou and every kind of fur like the beaver, otter, mink and marten and fox also the small game like rabbit and ptarmigan-there are more than one sort of ptarmigan, has all been affected from what I can see from the destruction of the land. Today, there are hardly any rabbits. I know why this happens, since so much land has been destroyed. It is the same for the beaver, it seems that there are hardly any now. It is the same for the porcupine, it seemed that it started to disappear almost right away. It seems that there is hardly any game now.

It is getting more and more scarce, even game that used to be plentiful. That is what I have seen. This is why I am talking about this.


I think there will come a time when we won't be able to eat what we used to survive on. So maybe they will tell us not to eat any more of the meat that we kill. Because already we know the affects on some of the animals we kill for food. For instance, the rabbit. Sometimes we know that there is something wrong with it. It is so lean that the meat turns dark and we can't eat it.


Yes. They have changed. There used to be a lot of ptarmigan before the flooding, but now there is hardly anymore ptarmigan. Also the same goes for the rabbit. There used to be a lot of rabbit, but not anymore.


They'd build a teepee and smoke and dry (the fish) and perhaps make powder out of it, to make pemmican. That's one of the traditions that we've completely lost. It's gone, even if they want to repair the site there, it wouldn't be the same. It will never be the same again.

And of course, up the river, we used to hunt for whatever... porcupine... there was a great abundance of willows... or whitebird, whitebird season... even rabbit, their habitat is gone now. We hardly have any rabbit nowawadays. The tradition says after 7 years they'll come back. I believe in tradition, myself. When the land is disrupted, what happens to tradition? Is it going to be disrupted? Can rabbit come back the way they used to be. Myself, I don't think so.

PTARMIGAN

It was really nice before the arrival of the whiteman. Last year when I went with my brother to LA-i, we saw a police officer in front of us and I saw a whitebird. He killed it and threw it away. Not so long ago, we went on the LG-3 & LG-4 road. We stopped at the gas pump in LA-1. We saw whitebirds that had been killed beside the gas pump shack. I wondered why they would kill these birds if they were not going to eat them. They waste a lot of meat. It's like they do not respect the animals. My husband also saw those whitebirds.


Where there used to be ptarmigan or rabbit, there is none. Even in places where there used to be lots there is nothing. Everything that's happening to us comes from these Hydro projects.


I think about this so often and think of the place that I used to hunt on, on the territory that has since been flooded. I think about how fertile this territory was. There were many ptarmigan too. The ptarmigan is not found any more because he has no place to eat. There used to a lot of ptarmigan every winter in the area near where the Caniapiscau post used to be. Today it is like there are none. This used to be such a good place for ptarmigan. It was always found in this area every winter. People of long ago used to say that they would go to the area where the Caniapiscau post used to be if they wanted to get some ptarmigan. Today, there are none. People used to say that even if ptarmigan were scarce, they could always be found there, in that area.


All the area that was flooded with LG 2 reservoir has completely destroyed where the ptarmigan and beaver used to be caught. There used to be a lot there. They will never be found there again, even if they could ever be there again. We know that there are cycles that go up and down for certain game. This always happened before. I remember, in the past, that there were times when the ptarmigan and rabbit were numerous. I think that this place has been destroyed, this place where it used to multiply. It was like a garden that belonged to somebody. It was like that for life to continue. It was decided that things would grow and multiply, including all game. This will never be able to be used again. It seems to many that there is no more ptarmigan. It is because he knows that his food has been destroyed. It is like that for the rabbit too. I remember times when the rabbit was numerous and abundant. There were so many that they were like a flock of ptarmigan running around. It was like that when I saw rabbits. I saw this in the LG2 area. This is all lost now, like it is disappearing. This is again especially true for the beaver. It is like that in the area where I hunted. There is water everywhere the beaver used to be. There is only a little bit of land showing.


I was taught very much about life of the past. The areas that the Cree person found very important to his hunting way of life. There was fish, ptarmigan, rabbit, beaver in this area which he considered very important. He was very careful with it, to look after it correctly. I heard that my grandfather used a net to catch ptarmigan. People used to go there when they wanted to kill ptarmigan. I guess that the ptarmigan liked to be in this area. I think about this very often. I can feel just how much I love it there & that I could practise the same way of hunting as our grandparents. They didn't use guns to kill ptarmigan, they used nets.


They say that when the dam is complete, more vegetation will be grown. He is doing this, but it's not helping anybody. He supposedly grew food for ptarmigan but he planted it the wrong thing. He should have asked the Cree people what the ptarmigan eat. We could have told him. He did what he wanted to do. If he listened to the Cree people for future things then he would learn something.


Animals are killed everywhere by this "road-to-build-dams". I have seen as far as the last dam on this road, it happens there too. Even the ones that fly are killed by this. This is the game we were told to always watch over and take of. This is what we were told when we were talked to. From what we know that we were taught as we grew up, this is the one thing we were told to especially take care of. We are not the ones doing this. It is being destroyed for us. It is destroyed by the work building dams that started on our river. Those that fly such as the ptarmigan and other birds are also killed. This is what we were raised on. This is why we were able to reach this age, because of what was used to help us survive. We want others to know that we think of this. We feel it enough to talk about how it has affected us. Every day, that which we should be teaching is shrinking. We are supposed to be teaching our grandchildren this way of life. It seems that it is disappearing, that it is ruined by outside forces.


I have seen Caniapiscau. We did live there, too. They say how this is all now under water. My father used to work there. We lived there for one year. My father used to work with this old man there. This old man is no longer alive. We lived in that house with them. It was very beautiful where that house stood. It was a very high spot on the land. Today, they say that it's all covered with water. I can't really remember, but there was a ptarmigan net which came right out of the house (net pulled right from inside the house). I guess they were able to get a lot of food to eat there. Today, they can't get anything.


... it has been a long time since ptarmigan could come here. We have a territory on the north side of the river, it has been a long time since we got ptarmigan there. There were always so many of them in the past that I can remember. There were so many ptarmigan in the spring and in the fall, just before Christmas. Since the river was dammed by the white people, it seems that these things we had are no longer available. ...

I hear that there are ptarmigan in the far north of here. It is like they cannot come any closer. We know what is causing this. I said that there is a reason why this is so, why they can t come here. I know that game that is killed here does not taste the same as it did in the past. Everything tasted so good, like the ptarmigan and rabbit. The rabbits of long ago were very good to eat. I think that they taste different because of what they have to eat, both the ptarmigan and rabbit. It seems that it comes from what they eat. Sometimes the rabbits look like they are half-dead, that is how thin they look. They did not look like this in the past. The ptarmigan also look the same. I think about this all the time, how different things taste now, as they did in the past. I think that there is something wrong with what they eat, something that is harmful to them.


I saw white men kill some ptarmigan once. They just took a small part of the breast and the rest they threw away and left behind. If I had a chance to talk to them I would tell them what I think of them.


Yes. They have changed. There used to be a lot of ptarmigan before the flooding, but now there is hardly anymore ptarmigan. Also the same goes for the rabbit. There used to be a lot of rabbit, but not anymore. Just a while ago, we went back to our camp. There wasn't a single trail anywhere of ptarmigan. It's three years now since we have see any signs of ptarmigan. Although there used to be a little bit of ptarmigan around, now we never see any signs of ptarmigan anymore. As I have said before, the hunting is very poor. We hardly have anything to hunt for. It's not like in the past before the flooding of the land when we could get anything we wanted.


And LG-2, there are I think about 5 or 6 traplines that are completely under water. We can no longer hunt where we used to hunt before. That's lost, their beaver's lost. Like I said, whitebird, beaver, waterfowl that used to feed in that area are completely lost. Now you see only islands, mountain tops.


Now LG-4 is a different thing. That's where my father used to take me. The rapids itself is called Little Caribou Rapids. There's a legend behind that, how it got its name. They say that where the rapids are is so narrow that even a small caribou could leap across. On both sides it was so steep. I've seen it myself and up the river, just before they started building the dam itself, I had the pleasure of occupying that area with my father along with X. We made a log cabin across the river, on the north side. A great place, a lot of game, moose, beaver, especially whitebird... especially whitebird. During the wintertime people from our community used to come up just for hunting whitebird, spend time with us, just for the whitebird. It was so great... feeding areas, willows along the river, were so beautiful. Like I said, we built a cabin, a log cabin. That's one of our hunting camps that was really destroyed by the flood. My grandmother was there and my oldest son, he was only a small baby, less than 1 year old. And when I told him about it ... of course he doesn't remember ... I can only tell him about it.

And north from the area that we're talking about was another big lake for fishing, lake trout and even whitebird, there was an area where four different rivers meet and there was a lot of brush, willows, for whitebird. That's completely underwater and the lake I was talking about. There, that was my father's territory. That speaks for itself in what my father did, taking care of the land.

SPRUCE GROUSE

I will tell about one time when I was living with this elder, who is no longer alive today. I lived with X's father, he is the one I lived with. We lived in the east, near where the water is deep now. It is called "Waapschgawgimaao". That is where we lived. We were even past the flooded region of the Opimiska River. I knew as we passed there that it was flooded where we used to hunt, south of Opimiska, that is where we were. We did not have anything to eat that came from the white man. I can only remember having one thing from them and that was salt. When winter came, we did not have any left. I never ate any bannock. We ate mainly fish and partridge. There were not many ptarmigan, left alone rabbit. We ate mainly fish and partridge (wood grouse).

3.4 PORCUPINE

When we talk about the Whapmagoostui area, those years were one of the best hunting years I had. I really enjoyed it very much and I don't think I will ever see the place again. I remember we used to make lots of camp in the way we used to travel with lots of people and everybody enjoyed themselves. So we used to get fish as we got further inland. Sometimes there wasn't rabbit or porcupine so our only food would be fish. So that's why I am against the project.


There were always a lot of beaver there, it was so plentiful. People ate this besides ptarmigan. There was also porcupine. These were some of the game that people lived on. I knew that when the Caniapiscau post was there, there were many graves there. They are now all under water.


Every kind of game including geese and those animals that are on the ground, this large game, like caribou, moose and caribou and every kind of fur like the beaver, otter, mink and marten and fox also the small game like rabbit and ptarmigan-there are more than one sort of ptarmigan, has all been affected from what I can see from the destruction of the land. Today, there are hardly any rabbits. I know why this happens, since so much land has been destroyed. It is the same for the beaver, it seems that there are hardly any now. It is the same for the porcupine, it seemed that it started to disappear almost right away. It seems that there is hardly any game now. It is getting more and more scarce, even game that used to be plentiful. That is what I have seen. This is why I am talking about this.

3.5. BIRDS

Yes they planted trees where they had damaged the land. But when they got the seeds, I don't know, maybe they got them from down south. Maybe that's why the animals are affected by these plants. In the spring there used to be lots of small birds, but there's hardly any small birds anymore. So there must be something that's affecting them too.


Today, everything we survived on has been contaminated, everything in the water has been affected. Even the things we do not eat are contaminated. Nothing has been spared, even birds of all kinds, even the smallest of game. They all have sickness like we have sickness. I heard you talking of all the ways we have been affected. This is all because our land is being destroyed.


Animals are killed everywhere by this "road-to-build-dams". I have seen as far as the last dam on this road, it happens there too. Even the ones that fly are killed by this. This is the game we were told to always watch over and take of. This is what we were told when we were talked to. From what we know that we were taught as we grew up, this is the one thing we were told to especially take care of. We are not the ones doing this. It is being destroyed for us. It is destroyed by the work building dams that started on our river. Those that fly such as the ptarmigan and other birds are also killed. This is what we were raised on. This is why we were able to reach this age, because of what was used to help us survive. We want others to know that we think of this. We feel it enough to talk about how it has affected us. Every day, that which we should be teaching is shrinking. We are supposed to be teaching our grandchildren this way of life. It seems that it is disappearing, that it is ruined by outside forces.


We are told that work has not started on this river, we have to look at what the electricity has done to us, wherever it goes. My wife and I were shown a duck that had fallen because of these hydro lines. It was still alive but it could not fly. He hit this power line that goes everywhere. These power lines are everywhere now. They go as far as the south now. How many birds has this happened to, especially if we can't see them, if they hit these lines? This is how much destruction has been done by the work of the dams, since it started.


When I was young, there used to be so many birds, now today it seems that are less and less birds. I know that even a bird is very small, he still counts for something. That is something else I can see as I get to know more about the land.

WATERFOWL

And LG-2, there are I think about 5 or 6 traplines that are completely under water. We can no longer hunt where we used to hunt before. That?s lost, their beaver?s lost. Like I said, whitebird, beaver, waterfowl that used to feed in that area is completely lost. Now you see only islands, mountain tops.

GEESE

I mean look at the geese, we hardly get any geese in the fall and we explain this because of all the damage, it's terrible, you know. You start to hear these stories that they have these weird diseases, their meat looks all weird because of what they're eating and their environment there. The fish are polluted. I mean, do they want that in Great Whale?

I went hunting inland, in LG-4, in the winter, for partridge and the geese were flying inland 'cause people say they see the big water at the reservoir; they don't want to land them.

I mean look at us, now, last spring, when I went hunting at the coast on the bay, we hardly got anything and usually we get tons of geese. This year too, we hardly got anything. Wemindji, too, from what I heard, Wemindji got quite a lot of geese. Once, after the Hydro project finished their job, we still didn't get any, like we did before.


A. I mean look at the geese, we hardly get any geese in the fall and we explain this because of all the damage, it's terrible, you know. You start to hear these stories that they have these weird diseases, their meat looks all weird because of what they're eating and their environment there. The fish are polluted. I mean, do they want that in Great Whale?

A. I went hunting inland, in LG-4, in the winter, for partridge and the geese were flying inland 'cause people say they see the big water at the reservoir; they don't want to land them.

A. I mean look at us, now, last spring, when I went hunting at the coast on the bay, we hardly got anything and usually we get tons of geese. This year too, we hardly got anything.

A. Wemindji, too, from what I heard, Wemindji got quite a lot of geese. Once, after the Hydro project finished their job, we still didn't get any, like we did before.


We don't know how far the water will go out in the Bay when this work is finished. This will happen in the Bay too, that things are destroyed, including the fish. The fish will become more and more scarce. The food that the geese eat will disappear too, what the goose eats will not grow at all. It will not come around here at all. Everything will be ruined when everything they want to do is finished.


The goose also notices the changes since the river was dammed. When it has seen what the land looks like even once, it is "turned off" right away, it doesn't want to go there. Since they did this to the river, it knows where the water will appear first, this is where the goose goes. They used to say that he was "thrown off (course) by water" and this is true that he is thrown off. The goose now knows where the water will first appear. It flies there now. He is thrown off. Where we are now, we don't see it come to where it used to fly. I often saw it fly west where we were, but more often now, I see it fly to the east. Sometimes we can barely see it to the east. When the geese reach the river, which has water on it, they fly to the east (inland) because they are looking for the water. This is the change we have noticed in the goose.

I told you also about the food it eats. It really enjoys eating the eelgrass, SHIKAPAASHKW, that grows in the water. Even as it flew in during the spring, it was well aware where there was a lot of water, near here. It does not come here anymore. It is because, like I told you, things are dissolving. It doesn't go where it used to go because the eelgrass does not grow there anymore. It now flies to the inland region because it knows that it's food does not look like it used to, especially the eelgrass. The fresh water flows there now so it's food does not grow there anymore. So, now it flies further inland. It flies too, where there are bays that are still untouched. Maybe our lights are too bright, maybe that is why it does this! ... laughing...


As I see the hunting, it has already affected the coastal hunting areas. Since the dams have been built the flow of the river has affected the coastal site, too. The geese used to have lots of feeding areas along the coast and now we see what has happened. The feeding areas are affected by the flow of the river, since the dams have been built.


And the geese, I went to the inland part of my hunting territory once and this was in the spring. Two geese were killed. We couldn't eat them because after they plucked the geese the meat was no good. It turned dark which is not good to eat.


Before they did anything to the rivers, people who hunted along the coast used to have good hunting seasons, when it was time to hunt geese. But today, where they used to fly, it is so different. They go on a different way. Sometimes it's worse on the north side of Chisasibi. So I feel very sorry and sad because so much has changed since the dams have being built. In our culture goose hunting is a very important activity, when a young boy kills his first goose there is always a big feast/celebration. Think how the young people feel when there is less and less geese to hunt every year. During the last few years, we heard that the geese fly on the inland. Since I can remember I hardly know when geese were killed inland. I remember in the past when we would arrive in Fort George, we would bring in lots of geese and we would share them with the people who were in the inland territory. And so for us, who still hunt in the coastal areas, we hardly bring in any geese. People used to dry the meat and make NISKAMASHTUK in the older days but that's all gone. It is so different today. So since the dams have being built we hardly kill any geese or they hardly fly.


We have lost so much. You probably noticed how the geese are now. People used to want to keep the fat of the goose. (The fat was rendered hot and then it would solidify almost like shortening. They would eat it with dry food like dried fish). It is called AWAAPSHCHUKAASHICH (literally like white ointment). Today the fat is not as white as it used to be, this goose fat. When we try to keep the goose frozen for any length of time, it turns yellow. It is because of pollution, from things put there by white people, that now go into what the geese eat. I used to enjoy eating goose so much. I can't eat it so much now. It doesn't taste right to me and its fat looks yellow to me. In the past, it tasted so good. Today, it tastes less and less good to eat. It is the same with the fish. It's flesh is too soft. It is because of the water. The things that the white people put into the water go everywhere. They still deny this when they are told this. They changed so many things here.


Q: What about the goose and other game, are people getting more now than they used to get in the past?

A: My father told me that it meant nothing if I saw this much goose being killed. I remember I was told many times when we were out at a goose camp not to go where the geese had landed. I was never to be seen near the geese. In the evening too, when the wind died down, we were never to be heard making noise. That is what we were always told. We were told we would scare the geese away. We were always told to be careful with them. We were told that they would come around if we were careful with them. That is what we were told. If we were not so careful, they would not come around and people wouldn't kill as many. If the food was not treated properly, the game would not come to him as much, even if the man was a very good shot. That is what we were told. We were still small when this was told to us. Even when we were on our own, we were still told this. A person is not told something just once. He should be told many times, even if he is on his own. He should be told this.

Q: Today, what is it like?

A: Today, where I come from Eastmain, there are many things that I think about and how things were different for my parents and other men or elders and how they hunted. Today, when people are hunting, they can go wherever they (the children) want to go, even if they go where the geese are, nobody says anything. They can even stay out as late as they want. We were not allowed told that if we couldn't see, then we shouldn't be outside. We were told to come in when we couldn't see in the dark. Today, it is like we don't obey what we were taught, then we are confused today because we didn't obey what we were taught. It is like we just ignored everything that we were taught. Now today, we are confused because we didn't listen to what we were being taught.


Q: Do you think that the geese will be....

A: I don't think that the number of geese will change so much. I am not the one who knows so much what hunting will be like. I don't think that the numbers will change so much. At times, it does change. Sometimes, the numbers drop and sometimes, it is more plentiful. It is like that... Compared to the past, it seems to fly more to the east. (inland) In the past, people did not hunt goose so much in the inland region at this time of the year. I haven't heard that the geese had a sickness. I only heard that when someone wounds a goose without killing it, that sometimes that the goose was sick from the pellets still left in its body.

Q: What about since it eats fish with sickness.

A: The goose does not eat fish. He only eats what grows. (laughing)

Q: I heard someone say that the goose ate fish...

A: Maybe this could happen, but I have never heard of the goose hunting for himself like other birds do, that kill their food. He eats what grows. Maybe he would touch something that was within his reach. This could happen to anything that was hungry, that it would eat what was left within its reach. Maybe this could happen to the goose. I never heard of this and I have never seen this happen...


Today, the game that was once so numerous is getting so scarce. It is like the geese are afraid of something. They are getting scarce. They are not coming close by anymore, they stay so far away now. I hear that there are geese that can be killed far from here, but we cannot get so many here and it has been like that for a long time now. People are not getting so many in the spring as well as the fall.


If a kid kills a goose for the first time, the first one you ever kill, everybody who takes the first bite, they have to close their eyes. You have to cook everything--the head, the wings and you cook it like that. You only get a bite, though. There's a lot of people in the camp. Everyone gets a big piece of the goose. For the first bite only, everyone closes their eyes and then they eat it. After the first bite you eat normally--with your eyes open.


A: Sometimes its bad and sometimes its good. Hunting for geese are... they fly high and they don't want to come down. I don't know why. Every year the geese fly differently.

Q: Has the dam affected the hunting for you?

A: Before the dams, this is what I heard from the elders, the geese use to fly out over the bay and now they fly everywhere. I guess its better if you're inland.

DUCK

We are told that work has not started on this river, we have to look at what the electricity has done to us, wherever it goes. My wife and I were shown a duck that had fallen because of these hydro lines. It was still alive but it could not fly. He hit this power line that goes everywhere. These power lines are everywhere now. They go as far as the south now. How many birds has this happened to, especially if we can't see them, if they hit these lines? This is how much destruction has been done by the work of the dams, since it started.


No, we don't eat those ducks that survive on fish. We tell our hunters not to kill those ducks. We wouldn't be able to eat them if they did kill them. It would be just a waste and we don't like to waste any kind of food.

3.6. FISH

A: There's a lot of destruction. Where we used to live that's where are of the dams are located. They tried to build another one there but the people didn't allow it. The water is not as deep anymore and the fish are not as good because of the dams. A lot of fish have been destroyed because of the dams. They don't look the way they did before.

Q: Because of the mercury?

A: Yes, they have the fish disease.

Q: Do you still eat as much fish as you did before the building of the dams?

A: I don't eat as much fish as I used to since they built the dams. Because the fish have sickness. They told me I had the "fish disease", but not much.


Q: How will the project affect the Great Whale people?

A: The fish will be sick just like our fish. I feel sadness for them when I hear the talking about the project. No matter how hard we fought in the past, they still went along with the projects. I think it will be the same for them.


When we talk about the Whapmagoostui area, those years were one of the best hunting years I had. I really enjoyed it very much and I don't think I will ever see the place again. I remember we used to make lots of camp in the way we used to travel with lots of people and everybody enjoyed themselves. So we used to get fish as we got further inland. Sometimes there wasn't rabbit or porcupine so our only food would be fish. So that's why I am against the project.


The fish out in the Bay, to the north and south, is very different from what fish used to be like. I don't know if the white man will understand this, since the white man cannot understand us like we cannot understand him. It is the same for both of us. I don't know how I will say this in Cree but the flesh does not have the same quality of texture it used to have... (says quality of texture in English). It seems to break apart so easily. The flesh seems very soft and weak. This is what the fish we get from the Bay is like now. The white man does not understand when we talk about this quality of the fish flesh. It is a long time ago, when Georgie Lameboy was still working here, that we tried to make the white people understand this when they came fishing and they didn't understand this. They didn't know what we meant. I don't think that the white man will ever understand this as long as he lives, when people talk about this.

They say that the fish found in the reservoir is still good, but when we catch it we don't like it. The white man enjoys eating fish that just comes apart on its own. We prefer fish flesh that we can eat with a fork. The fish we catch out in the Bay is not like this anymore. There is no good quality of texture. The fish is not like this anymore. This is what we find when we catch fish out in the Bay, this is since the river was dammed. It will be even worse when LGl-UUPICHUUN is in operation.


You can see the land destroyed right underneath where the power lines run. We know that some moose are harmed by this if they stay around under where the power lines run. This is what it is going to be like on our river, when everything they want to do to it is in operation. It will be like the land itself around the river will be destroyed, if everything "he" wants to do is done. This is how things will be affected. We will then certainly not be able to eat any of the fish in the river because we don't eat it even now. We don't know how far the water will go out in the Bay when this work is finished. This will happen in the Bay too, that things are destroyed, including the fish. The fish will become more and more scarce. The food that the geese eat will disappear too, what the goose eats will not grow at all. It will not come around here at all. Everything will be ruined when everything they want to do is finished.

Even in very deep water, it will affect enough so that nothing will grow in it, especially what the fish eat. These things we find when we gut a fish (undigested food). It will not be able to eat what it is used to eating. It will be like everything is dissolving when all this work is finished. That is what I think about, since I have been working there.


Why can't they hunt where he flooded the land? The white people too, don't hunt where the land is flooded. They don't get fish there. Why can't he send his people to where the water is deep on flooded land, to get fish? Myself, I have no desire to get fish from there.

I once asked a doctor who came to my house where mercury in fish comes from (literally "sickness of the fish"). I knew where it came from, but I still asked him. He told me very accurately that it comes from rotting trees that are under water. He told me that this is where the bacteria comes from. He told me that this is where fish sickness comes from. Hydro did not try to find out about this sickness. Cree people were never told that there was sickness in the water from flooded land. Fish in water used to be the most pure type of food, if they were found in clean water.


I will tell about one time when I was living with this elder, who is no longer alive today. I lived with Clifford Bearskin's father, he is the one I lived with. We lived in the east, near where the water is deep now. It is call "Waapschgawgimaao". That is where we lived. We were even past the flooded region of the Opimiska River. I knew as we passed there that it was flooded where we used to hunt, south of Opimiska, that is where we were. We did not have anything to eat that came from the white man. I can only remember having one thing from them and that was salt. When winter came, we did not have any left. I never ate any bannock. We ate mainly fish and partridge. There were not many ptarmigan, left alone rabbit. We ate mainly fish and partridge (wood grouse).


Today, though, big game like the caribou and moose seem to have sickness. I know of at least four moose we killed that we could not eat. There was something wrong with their insides. We were told what it would look like if something was wrong with, this was true for the beaver also. We were told not to eat the intestines and the liver. We knew that the beaver had something wrong with it, so we did not eat it. I know of four moose that we could not eat. The insides were white. The liver was white and it looked wet. I did not want to eat it, myself. I would not ever eat a moose that looked like that. I saw moose killed from a very young age. I never saw this sickness. The caribou and moose get food from the water. The moose stands in water to eat. This sickness comes from those who have flooded the land. This is why this happens to the large game. The fish, too, is affected by this. It is pitiful for us to see the animals that are inedible. I wonder what he would think if he saw the things he has ruined, the food that he has ruined. Us Cree people were given this food to eat.


When something is destroyed, it cannot be used again. We are lied to when they say we can eat the fish again. We know that we cannot eat it. We will not able to ever use it again. The hydro people are only trying to fool us, that is why they talk this way.


A Native person looks at the land and water, he sees life, and his survival, and the fish in the water which is part of his survival. Soon, we will have to search for clean water.


We, the Native people, were here first. This is where we grew up. We survived from the land. This was where we raised our children and look how hard it is today. We can't eat what we use to survive on. We are told not to eat fish where we, ourselves, were raised and where we raised our children. There is nothing left for us. We are told there is mercury in the fish and so we are told not to eat the fish and other wild animals. The whiteman can not think that it is alright to destroy the land. One day he will see what he did to the land and he will know that it was not right. In some way, he will be sorry and suffer for it.


One thing I was concerned about when I first heard about the flooding of the land, was about the fish. I wondered what would happen to them, what would the fish eat. When the Creator made all things on this earth, he put everything and every living thing for man to use. It was beautiful and pure. The Creator didn't put things here, on this earth, that would harm man. He made it so his children could survive and prosper on this earth. This was our garden. He put this garden here for us to survive on and eat from it. Many times we have voiced our opinions of what we think, but the whiteman keeps destroying and destroying the land. He doesn't listen to us. We are even told that some of us are affected by mercury. As I said before, when the creator made the earth, he made the lakes, rivers, earth, etc.. He put every living thing here to grow and multiply and to survive from where they were put. That was the way the Creator made the earth. He made it beautiful and everything was pure. And today, we can't eat from the land and river. This river of ours was a very beautiful river before anything was done to it. The people that were still living, when they started to destroy this river, used to say we were so happy when we could fish anywhere from this river. From here, all the way past LG4, people used to hunt and fish and the river was beautiful. Now we can't do that anymore. We are told not to fish on the rivers or to eat anything from it. All because the whiteman has destroyed and flooded the land. He puts things in the rivers, so it would harm everything that we had survived on in the past.


Everything has been destroyed. We don't know what the white people have to use to ruin things. Everything is so bad. When they make concrete, they put in things that are no good. This is how the fish is no good to eat and why some of the animals are sick. They eat vegetation from the place where the power lines run. When it rains, some of this stuff always falls to the earth. The animals eat this and it is not good for them. Things are getting more and more pitiful. Things are pitiful because things are scarce, things that were put here by God. Everything is very difficult today. The water is completely ruined now and the land is ruined too. It will never grow properly again. When God first made this earth, he made it so nice. He made good food for the animals to eat. He didn't put anything in that would poison them. He made everything grow very well. He knew that the Cree people would live on this food that he put on the earth. He put in fish and he made good food for them to eat. He put in a nice habitat for them. Everything that was put here by God was beautiful. This is what he gave us to eat.

When the white man came, he didn't care about how God made this earth. He destroyed it all. There is so much that is not there anymore, that which we are supposed to eat.


Long ago, we had everything we needed to hunt. Today, we cannot hunt anything because there is nothing left. We had everything that the others have, those who own hunting territories. There is nothing to hunt, where we used to hunt. Since the dam, we were only able to fish there one spring. We were told we couldn't fish there because we could get sickness from the fish. This is how our territory was affected. We were told there is sickness in land animals as well. We were not the only ones who were affected, everyone in Chisasibi was affected this way. The coastal people feel the effects now too. There is sickness in the fish. We have to get fish either from further north or further south. This is how it is for us here in Chisasibi. This is how we feel the result of the dam.


There is much loss of food that we used to put in our mouths. Today I have no desire to harvest where it is flooded, for the fish there. The fish does not appear the same as it did before all this land was flooded. This is harmful to it. This is another big loss for us. Thinking and looking back, I lived almost exclusively on fish. The fish today is very different from the fish we used to eat. The fish we ate never looked like the fish caught in the flooded area. The white man shouldn't think that the Cree people cannot see any difference in this than before he dammed the river and flooded the land. We know our land, since we lived off it.


I want to say that we were harmed by what was done, the fish especially. When I saw it, I knew something was wrong with it. I saw fish that were caught in a flooded area and I knew right away he was harmed by this water from flooded land, land that was never under water before. I knew right away that it was harmful to the fish, and that it looked different. Today, I have no desire to get fish from the area flooded by the project. It doesn't taste the same as fish from an untouched lake. The fish are not the only things affected. We know any animal that lives in that area is affected by the reservoir.


They didn't use guns to kill ptarmigan, they used nets. This method was of course used for fishing. This territory was an esteemed area for fishing. Since the white man started working on this river, we were right along this river, as they worked on it. When it was time for us to go into the bush, it was like someone was designating the area we could go to. This is what this project did to us. Maybe not too many people were aware of this. It was like Hydro was telling us where to hunt, where we could kill beaver and all other animals who live in the water. It was getting chaotic for us.


What if they dam this river to the north? This must be one of the only untouched rivers that contain good fish. What if the river is dammed how will they live? They will also have the sickness we ourselves now have--mercury poisoning "sickness of the fish". Money is worthless, what will we turn to?


Sometimes when a person goes somewhere and looks at what has been done to the territory, he finds game that has been killed and not taken. This happened to me twice already. I found fish that were not taken after they were caught. It was not a Cree person who did this. This was done by a white man. He makes laws that decide which months he will allow the white people to go fishing, without first asking the Cree people. When Cree people lived there, this is how they survived, from fish. Today, since all this work began, we cannot eat the fish so much now. I was told that I had sickness from fish (mercury). I was told that I could not eat over a certain amount of fish. I never had any problems when I survived on fish alone, when I was "there" (doesn't say where) . Since the dam was built, I have been told how much fish I can eat so I wouldn't have too much sickness from the fish. This is just one more that has been destroyed by the work on the dam.


There is no way I can get any kind of game there. It is mainly covered in water. We know that mainly fish can live in this water. I don't eat the fish they get from the reservoir. I was told that I have this sickness of the fish (mercury). Even if I didn't have this sickness, I don't think that I would still want to eat any of this fish. The fish is so different from what it used to, as it was in the past, before the land was under water.


I see a lot of things every day since I hunt near the highway. We see the affects of the hydro projects everyday in animals that we kill for food like moose, caribou, rabbit. Sometimes we can't eat them so we are sure that the effects came from the hydro lines. We are told sometimes not to eat some of these animals which we had survived on for food. I think the only animal we haven't been told not to eat is the beaver. But everything else, fish and the other animals, we are told sometimes not to eat them, especially the fish. We were told not to fish on the reservoir or the rivers. We were told not to fish around here. I see a lot of the things that people are talking about we have a lot of problems with these hydro projects. For instance, we could put up our nets where ever we wanted to and today nobody can do that. Even where we are living today, near the shore, that's where we used to set up our nets and now that's all gone.


This is what is going to happen to the people of Whapmagoostui also, if he goes ahead with what he wants to do. They will also be told that they can't drink the water. They will be told that they cannot eat the fish that comes from the river. When we were young we got everything from the river, including clean drinking water and also food, which was fish. We were not prevented from eating it. It is only since the white man has been working up here that this started.


I don't drink the water from the reservoir, I don't get water from there. I especially don't want to eat the fish from the reservoir. I don't think that people should fish there.


We have lost so much. You probably noticed how the geese are now. People used to want to keep the fat of the goose. (The fat was rendered hot and then it would solidify almost like shortening. They would eat it with dry food like dried fish). It is called AWAAPSHCHUKAASHICH (literally like white ointment). Today the fat is not as white as it used to be, this goose fat. When we try to keep the goose frozen for any length of time, it turns yellow. It is because of pollution, from things put there by white people, that now go into what the geese eat. I used to enjoy eating goose so much. I can't eat it so much now. It doesn't taste right to me and its fat looks yellow to me. In the past, it tasted so good. Today, it tastes less and less good to eat. It is the same with the fish. It's flesh is too soft. It is because of the water. The things that the white people put into the water go everywhere. They still deny this when they are told this. They changed so many things here.


I saw UUPICHUN-LGl also. I didn't want to cross over to the other side because I was afraid. I had never crossed at a place that looked like that. I was too scared when they wanted to drive across. We had to turn back. We used to get so much food there. Look at what it looks like now. There used to be so many people there. They pulled in nets (KAKAWPICHAANUCH). You couldn't see the place (where they pulled in the nets) at all when I saw it. People got so many fish there. People dried fish for the winter (NIMAASHTAAKUCH-dried fish). Today, it cannot be done at all, to hunt there. We used to live there for a long time to fish. Today, people cannot do this at all. People used to pound this fish into a powder (for pemmican-a pate of fish and grease or fat). Today, you cannot go where people used to live. There used to so many people there. Look at what the white man has done.


It is the food that runs on land that people used to eat and we also got food from the water, like the fish. Today we cannot eat the fish anymore that comes from this destroyed river.


There is something in the water now that is like poison since this work has been done on the river, inland from here. This is where it comes from. We can't eat the fish that is in the river now. It doesn't taste like it did before our river was touched. I know that fish we eat here does not taste the same as it used to. I can't eat the fish now because I know that it now tastes so different, like there is something wrong with it. It doesn't taste the same as it did before our river was touched. This hurts me so much whenever I think about what has happened.


Q: Is this fish good to eat? Does it have sickness?

A: People don't think so yet, but we don't know how things are. The rivers which have not been affected by the reservoirs must not have changed so much for the fish. We still have to be careful where the people fish on the rivers where they are. I think that there are some who throw metal into the river, including cans. There is also some damage when someone spills gas. Further inland, it seems that the amount of mercury in a lake depends on the position of the lake since this water flows downstream and the fish swim downstream too. In the inland region, where the reservoir was created, there is fish sickness (mercury). The closest lake to it seems to have more mercury. The lakes closest to the reservoir seem to have the most mercury.


Many times I have seen dead animals and dead fish around the LG2 area. It is very sad to see them lying around. One time I saw a lot of dead fish around that area. They were all dried up and there was hardly any water where they were lying dead. When I was looking at the dead fish I felt as if for some reason it was a human slowly dying.


A lot of the animals have disappeared and in some areas there is nothing left of the fish which we had survived on. Although sometimes we still trap some animals, they are very poor. Some look as if they are starving. This all comes from the contaminated water and plants which the animals survive on.


We came to a well known lake, Lake Ipisikimish, where people used to stay for longer periods because of the good fishing spots there. I will tell you what I saw during that time. At that time the fish was our main source of food. My father and another man brought in two fish which they had caught. They were very big fish. My grandmother was still living at that time, so they told my grandmother that after the fish were cooked that she would be the one to serve the fish, even though she was very old. The two fish were the same. Both were very fat and they were the finest fish I had seen. So my grandmother, after she was given the fish, told my father and my uncle to give thanks to the Creator for providing us with such a fine feast. And so that's what we did. My grandmother said, "If you do as I say and give thanks to the Creator, you will bring in a good catch when you go hunting during the coming year". That winter was a very good winter for us. We stored a lot of fish for the coming winter. When we left to go to another area we had a lot of fish left for later use. And that winter our main source of food was fish.


In the past when people travelled up and down this river, they could fish anywhere they wanted to, but that's all gone too. Nobody can eat the fish here from the river. At LGl there used to be a place where there were plenty of fish. You could just scoop them up. And now there is nothing left.


I have seen dead fish many times on the reservoir. I guess it's because of the chemicals from the things they eat. They die trying to survive on water and the fish are weak and thin. The lake where we hunt is already affecting the fish. We used to have good fish, but that has changed now. We used to see things being thrown into the lake such as metal or sometimes even boots. The white men fished there and didn't even bother to take their boots ashore. They just left them there on the lake and they sunk. So that was one of the reason why we think the fish are not good anymore. Where we used to have very good fish we can now hardly eat them anymore. Our way of life has been destroyed.

WHITEFISH

'Cause at the beginning when people are first fishing in the reservoirs, I understood it was very productive and.... people were quite pleased....

A. Yeah, they were, fish, especially whitefish, all fish were fat, even today, it is productive. It's tempting to eat fish there, good fish. Of course the old people said that normally, when an animal's sick, it's puny, skinny, and no good to eat, that's why it's, you know, mercury; "Fish are not sick, they're good to eat, they're fat". So, well I still eat fish out there.

Q. At the reservoir?

A. Oh, yeah, yeah. Because we had them in the reservoir**, our own camp is in that, our trapline, it's one of our trapline that were flooded, ** 50 % of our trapline was flooded.


A. That's why we should, it says we should be the ones that telling what's, what are the negatives and what are the positive impacts of the project.

Yeah, the people, you know, a lot of people don't know that, many things that we've seen, that we have experienced, of the project, fish, you know, thousands, thousands of fish are dying every year, you know. Like LG-3, down stream of LG-3 was, you know, when we were allowed to go in the reservoirs in the spring, piles and piles of fish along the shores.

Q. Is that right?

A. Yeah. Fish, small fish that are coming through the turbines, you know. I have pictures of that, those --

Q. Yeah, do you?

R Yeah.

Q. That'll be interesting.

A. Piles, I don't know how long, and the birds, waterfowl is eating those, so we couldn't eat those waterfowl, even the geese were eating the fish, hey, black bears, crows, but now it's not that many anymore, hey.

Q. I wonder why?

A. I don't know. I couldn't -- I had no idea the first time they used the turbines, in LG-3, you know, all the reservoirs were like that, but nobody talks about it.

Q. Yeah.

A. And there's piles, along the shores of the ? because in the fall, the reservoir is right up to the brim, it's full, hey, under the maximum level, then it goes down, goes down from the maximum level to the spring, to the spring, fish, dead fish, whitefish.

Q. Are they more or less whole or are they cut up or are they --

A. No, they're full. Because they're coming through turbines, see?

Q. Yes.

A. Maybe that has also the -- the temperature of the water, because cold there, regular temperature on upstream of reservoir, then it goes to turbines, there's a -- somebody was telling me, he said there's about 32 degrees change if it's, like -- the way he explained to me, if it's minus 40 on the upstream, by the time the water goes to the turbines, it's minus 8, when it comes out on downstream, maybe it's, that's what happens. Also that the rapid, I guess the fish die.

Q. So in the spring, when you go just below, is it just below the turbines?

A. Yeah.

Q. There's piles, along the shore, there's piles?

A. Yeah, right up to, I don't know, maybe about 10 --10, 15, 20 kilometres along the shores. So nobody knows that.

Q. You have pictures of that?

A. Yeah.


I should talk about the important points, I guess, in my life, that I knew about, which are now completely lost. For instance, up in LG-l, the site of the first dam (from the river mouth), generators, channels, reservoir. That was the site where we used to harvest each fall, just before fall, say in the month of July, at the end of July and August, harvest whitefish at a certain point, just down by the LG-l site. That used to be a community tradition, everyone used to go there, whole families used to go there just to harvest whitefish. We could feel the excitement when we were going to go, we called it Upichuun, you know. I hate calling it LG-l; the name of it was Upichuun. It was one of the most powerful rapids, the first rapids from the coast. Nobody could ever shoot them. They would always portage.


Q. Can you maybe explain to me about what it was like at that time and what the fishing was like? What happened?

A. O.K. The first time, well it was during the winter that we saw... it was in the fall that we saw the water rising. I was out there somewhere.

Q. This when the reservoir was being filled for the first time?

A. Yeah, filled for the first time. The water was rising and it kept rising. We didn't know how much, like I was saying before, we didn't know where it would go until we saw the dykes there. And so I think it was that fall, yeah, well in the summer we didn't go fishing in the summer because we didn't know what was ... what to expect out there. So in the fail, that fall, the first fall after the flooding, O.K., we were ...I was with my wife, we were going for a ride somewhere way out here and when we returned, right at the end of the dykes, at the end of the dyke here, let's see, yeah, we were out here somewhere, going for a ride and when we returned we were about here, when my wife said, "Look, look at the water", there seemed to be ripples, like it was really clear. She said, "Look at the ripples on the water". So I just took a look and I could sort of see fins, fish fins on the water. "Those are fish fins", so I took a closer look and sure enough, those were fish fins.

Q. And what were they? What kind of...

A. Whitefish. Well we didn't know, so I went back and I think I had to return back to Chisasibi so we went back and I told my father that we saw a fish probably spawning and he said ... then he asked me where, so I told him where it was, so I guess the next day, the person he was with there, the next morning, they went to that spot there and they set up a net and I think it was ... I think they set it up around, oh, in the afternoon and they went to check it in the evening and their net was full!

Q. Oh, yeah? Really, really full?

A. Yeah, really, really full. This was the first time that anybody had decided to set up a net or go fishing on that...

Q. And this was the first fall? This was, like the reservoir was being filled?

A. No, the first fall, the first time the reservoir was being filled during the fall where the ice wasn't, O.K.? But then again, the summer came then the fall.

Q. O.K. The fall after that?

A. So one year, close to one year after. About 9 months or so later. So that was the first time we saw something like that, we saw those fish. And when they set up their nets were full. So what they did was they ...I guess they informed the people in Chisasibi, so the following summer people started setting up camps here. There were camps at that spot where I was telling you about.

Q. O.K. Like where the caribou is now.

A. Yeah. When you go there, you're going to see on the west side, O.K., when you go up the road, you can see on the west side where there've been camps. You're going to notice that. So there were camps all along here. So there were camps all along here. There are camps over here and then there were camps over here. Somewhere over here. So people were setting up camps here, fishing camps. They were going up on the weekends to set their nets because the fish returned.

Just for a weekend, you'd catch 100 pounds of fish or more.

Q. Oh, yeah? They were catching what mostly?

A. Whitefish, and some lake trout, speckled.

Q. And what were the fish like? Like what was their ... were they, to people, at that time, were they considered to be very good tasting, good quality?

A. Yeah, they were saying that it was said to be a lot of fat, like when you catch a fish, it tends to have fat. People here prefer to eat fish which are fat, not lean. But then a couple of years later, we were told not to eat anything because of the mercury level.

Q. So for what, one summer, maybe two summers, there was a lot of fishing?

A. Yeah. Maybe two.

Q. By net? A lot of fishing maybe by net?

A. Yeah.

Q. In those areas and everybody was, like all kinds of people were coming from Chisasibi?

A. Yeah.

Q. To fish there. O.K. Were people very happy, I gather, at first, when the reservoir seemed to be so productive?

A. Yeah. And then after that, 2 or 3 years later, you know when there was nobody on there anymore.

Q. After they heard about mercury?

A. Yeah. There might have been some more camps over on the other side. But I remember going there and I remember some camps, all along the ...

Q. O.K. So what happened after people started talking about mercury?

A. Completely dropped ... the fishing dropped. Nobody wanted to go there anymore.

STURGEON

A. We no longer could use the river itself as a means of transportation or even eating or even drinking from it. Of course, mercury contamination was a disaster to the fish population and to the animals who lived off the river. Of course, waterfowl who ate off the reservoirs because of mercury contamination, all species of fish, sturgeon... yeah, there were sturgeon in the river. As far as to LG-l, there was sturgeon.

Q. From the LG4 area, down as far as LG-l, there was sturgeon?

A. Yeah. Specially around the LG-2 area, there was sturgeon. Sakami, there was sturgeon. But now, we find out that where there was never any sturgeon there are sturgeon, up the rivers where it's not being affected. For example in the Caniapiscau region near Z's territory, especially north and south of Caniapiscau, the main river. There's a certain falls there that I know about. I don't know how high it is but it's at a height where I don't think any fish can climb and I think that's where they spawn, according to Z who was on a small expedition to find or locate our species, the sturgeon. They were sent by the Cree trappers. It's through the mercury program, one of the special projects that ... is now being subsidized.

We can no longer depend on the reservoir so we have to go elsewhere up to neighbouring territories, mainly the north coast, outlying hunting territories and south coast outlying hunting territories. We depend on them mostly for our fish consumption, the whole community. But that, in a sense, takes away at least the tradition where we used to hunt, I should say fish, for our whole livelihood.

Q. So was sturgeon something important? People liked them?

A. It was a delicacy ... sturgeon. It was not often that we got sturgeon. Specially during the summertime, that was the favorite time where people used to go sturgeon hunting or setting up nets along the river or areas where they used to find sturgeon.

Q. They were catching them by net? Or what other techniques would they use to fish?

A. Most of the time, it was using net and what my father used to do was he used to shoot sturgeon. Sturgeon would get really close up to land. In coves, you know, small streams, you would quietly go up to the mouth of a stream and... of course, he knew how to look for them. By canoe, really quietly, float up to the mouth. He'd know where to look. In the shallows, that's where he would take aim at them with the rifle. He used the rifle... a high-powered rifle. The sturgeon were fairly big. Most of them were big; some of them were pike size, you know. Most of them would be about 3, 4, 5 even 6 (feet). Once I heard of one that was about the length of a 24 ... no ... 18 footer (canoe). It got pretty big, I guess. At that time. But I guess you can no longer see any sturgeon that size, ?cause God knows where they went to... or are there any?

LAKE TROUT

What happened to LG-1, LG-2, LG-3. Great impact on the people; not only the people, but also the waterfowl, the animals... Now LG-4 is a different thing. That's where my father used to take me... And north from the area that we're talking about was another big lake for fishing, lake trout and even whitebird, there was an area where four different rivers meet and there was a lot of brush, willows, for whitebird. That's completely underwater and the lake I was talking about. There, that was my father's territory. That speaks for itself in what my father did, taking care of the land.

WHALES

Q: Can you tell us more about the territory you used to hunt on at first?

A: I can talk about it. I went to see it last winter because I could not see it before. I will talk about it. It has not been flooded there, the water did not reach it. Some of the elders who hunted there long ago used to go inland from Whapmagoostui when they wanted to go there. There was a reason why they wanted to go inland there, that was because of the game there. It was at this time that they got any kind of game, including large game. There was bear too as well as animals in the water. They used to paddle there because they got all kinds of game. They used to go inland from Whapmagoostui. These were elders of long ago from Fort George. They wanted to kill the whale too, at Whapmagoostui. This is why they went inland from Whapmagoostui They say that they passed by where I first used to hunt. They used to paddle on the Caniapiscau River, where the post used to be. This river had two tributaries and they used go on the one to the west. Some used to paddle there. There were times when there were many people in quite a few canoes. They wanted to kill whales to eat, that is why they went inland from there.


You probably know that before Chisasibi existed, the fathers of our grandfathers used to go inland along the Whapmagoostui River. These were our grandfathers and great-grandfathers. Along the Opimiska River, you will see birch trees growing. The Whapmagoostui elders, who are no longer alive, used to get birch bark there to make their canoes. This was before they got birch bark from other places. This is what I was told and these elders are no longer alive. People used to gather there without our knowledge because they did not tell us, that is what they told me. The people of long ago used to use this river and this is where they used to be when the people still used to kill whales, our late grandfathers. The people used to gather and store the fat from the whales before the white men came and then they went inland, these late grandfathers of ours and their fathers. That is what they said, when I listened to them. They told me this. Why should we think that we cannot help them hang on to their river, since our grandfathers used this river to go inland before we were born? I wanted to remind you that these people used this river well and in the spring too, even though there was village here. I heard that this happened long before our grandfathers were married. I was told that our own grandfather knew hunting very well. He was mentioned in Whapmagoostui. People went hungry in the spring, especially when it was too windy for people to go out on canoes. I heard this story last summer, that he said that he would try to kill a whale. He was asked by his brother how he would kill it with the high winds. His brother told him he would go with him. We will do whatever you want, said his brother. The water was not very far away. That is what they said. The people lived across the river. He harpooned a whale at Opitwamskach. He told the people they had to hang on to both sides of the canoe. As he was dragged by the whale, he was able to hang on to it and hold it somehow. They did whatever he wanted. He was able to feed people since he knew how to hunt so well. That is what they said about him. I am talking about our grandfather. He was very knowledgeable about hunting, he was often the one who told others how to conduct a hunt. This is what I think about so often and your own grandfathers.

3.7. TREES

I have seen dams in the land of the white man, I could see that the water stayed within the river 5 banks. The water did not quite reach the trees on the shore. This is what it looks like when the water level rises. You can see that soil and trees are ruined when too much water is on top of them. The dams that I saw did not look like the ones here. Here, they have ruined so many trees. This is why I think that he is overdoing it, ruining the land like that. That is why the Cree people are not happy.


Even if they drained all the water from the dam, the Cree people would still not be able to use it for anything. He thinks of how he used to use this land so well. He wouldn't be able to get anything from it now, not even good wood. This is all ruined, the trees and the game are ruined.


I know for certain that there is very little Chisasibi hunting territory left untouched by water. Looking at the sad condition it now is in, when someone really thinks about it, it hurts him very deeply, when he really thinks about it. Especially if he sees where it was flooded. When I see the tops of trees in the water, it hurts me so much. You know I teach the children here. One day in class, I told them I would teach them about trees. I told them I would teach them about how the Cree people used one particular type of tree when he still lived on the land. The people today still use this tree. As I was teaching them, I told them that I would write down all the ways people used this one type of tree. I wrote down 51 ways this one type of tree was used by the Cree people. This is how much the Cree could take from one tree and that is the black spruce (iiyahlikw). When I see the flooded areas, this is the tree I see most often washed ashore, this black spruce. This tree gave the Cree people the most of what they needed. It gave him medicine and the means to make what he needed to use. The children were amazed that one type of tree gave so much, so many ways used by the Cree people. When I see areas that were flooded, this is the tree I see most often washed up. This is completely unknown to the one who builds dams, just how much he destroys what the people used. This is just one type of tree that he is destroying, that he is destroying so much of this particular tree.


The harm was not confined within the shores of this river, why we have lost so much game and the hunting way of life. I can tell you that I have seen many of the rivers which flow into the Chisasibi Rivers. We have lost many of the trees that we used to use. The tree which grows very close to the shores of the river was very useful to us. The trees that grow inland are not as nice as the ones that grow close to the rivers. The first territory that was flooded was not nice to look at after it happened.

This is the thing that looked the worst of anything I have ever seen.


You probably know that before Chisasibi existed, the fathers of our grandfathers used to go inland along the Whapmagoostui River. These were our grandfathers and great-grandfathers. Along the Opimiska River, you will see birch trees growing. The Whapmagoostui elders, who are no longer alive, used to get birch bark there to make their canoes. This was before they got birch bark from other places. This is what I was told and these elders are no longer alive.


I heard my grandmother tell me to really watch where I cut down a tree from, where we were living, not to just chop down any tree without thinking about how I was going to use it. She told me not to ruin anything that I would not be using. She told me everything was alive. She asked me if I would be happy if I was a tree and was just chopped as I was growing and then thrown away. "What if you were just pushed away from where were growing?" That is what she told me. We are not careful with things. It is like we think we are beautifying where we are, but we are not making it beautiful. We are just making fun of it. That is what my late grandmother told me.

WILLOWS

The rabbit used to be very plentiful near the shores of the river. It can no longer be found by the river. It is like it is going further inland. It is like he is looking for a place to eat. I guess the willows he eats now tastes different from what they used to. This is where the rabbit used to be found. Maybe the willows taste different, since they are always immersed in water. The willows just drown in the water. They were not always so wet before the river was touched. The rabbit has noticed this now, the one that used to be found near the river. These willows don't have as much green wood on it as before. There is green wood on them, but they are not quite so green. They look like they are drying out even though they are always in water. That is what the rabbit has noticed. If a Cree person wanted to really find out about the flowers that grow near the shores, he would know that these flowers (he says they look puffy) that grow on the willows, that the ptarmigan used to eat, are no good. Even if they are found near the water, they look dried out. They don't have any green wood on them. I guess this happens because these willows are always in the water. The willows look like they are dying. We will notice this even more when all this work is finished. It will be like everything that grows along the shore, like the willow, is dead even though it is always wet. This is because of the things they use to operate the dam. They use oil and chemicals to operate the dams. This is the cause of this. We would not believe the white man if he says that this is because of the way of nature. We know that these things come from the dam.

3.8. BERRIES

There was a hill area on the north side (of the river at Upichuun-the First Rapids; now LGl). I used to go there all the time to pick berries. The women always picked berries there. They picked blueberries. They ate these along with the fish. I think about this often, since the road passes right there. So much of the ground there has been ruined, right where this nice place was, where berries were plentiful. The road goes right through this area. So much of the land that people lived off has been destroyed.

3.9. EELGRASS

This is the change we have noticed in the goose. I told you also about the food it eats. It really enjoys eating the eelgrass, SHIKAPAASHKW, that grows in the water. Even as it flew in during the spring, it was well aware where there was a lot of water, near here. It does not come here anymore. It is because, like I told you, things are dissolving. It doesn't go where it used to go because the eelgrass does not grow there anymore. It now flies to the inland region because it knows that it's food does not look like it used to, especially the eelgrass. The fresh water flows there now so it's food does not grow there anymore. So, now it flies further inland. It flies too, where there are bays that are still untouched.