The proceedings before the Quebec Superior Court seek to end the annual incremental destruction of Cree family hunting territories by unsustainable forestry practices.
The Crees seek interlocutory orders from the Court forcing the governments to respect their rights and use of the land and forests, and to carry out a complete environmental and social impact assessment and review of all forestry operations in Northern Quebec.
Neither Quebec nor Canada have carried out the environmental assessment and review contemplated by the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement and related legislation before authorizing present forestry activities. As a result, the boreal forest is being clear-cut at rates that it cannot sustain, threatening the future of the boreal ecosystem. Moreover, the governments and forestry companies ignore the right of the Cree people to continue their traditional economy and system of land use, and to benefit from the resources on their lands.
The Crees therefore request the Court to order that no new forestry plans or permits be approved or issued in the future, until a comprehensive environmental and social impact assessment and review have been completed and the conclusions made public and until Cree rights and use of the land are respected.
"We cannot accept that our Traditional Lands (Eenou Astchee) be used by the forestry companies in a manner that fails to recognize any priority of Cree rights, and is destructive of our traditional system of land use", stated Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come. "We are confident that full environmental and social impact assessment and reviews will demonstrate that present forestry practices are unacceptable in Northern Quebec, and need to be curtailed and radically altered", he added.
"Our trappers will wait no longer. Nor will they allow themselves to be put in the position of begging for leftovers of the forest", said Chief John Kitchen of Waswanipi who heads the Cree forestry team.
The Crees emphasize that they are not intent on shutting down the forestry industry in Northern Quebec. "Our concern is to make sure that the forest is protected and logging is carried out in a truly sustainable manner that considers the values of all who use the forest, with priority of the people of the forest", also stated Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come.
For further information contact:
Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come (514) 861-5837 (office)
Chief John Kitchen (819) 856-7273
Rom?o Saganash (418) 692-5153
Bill Namagoose (613) 725-7024