Nemaska, March 19, 2001 -- This morning the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) placed an advertisement in the Capital hill-based Washington newspaper, Roll Call, to emphasize their contention that Quebec's forestry system is "destroying" the Crees "Indian way of life". The ad includes three quotations --: two from prominent industry representatives and one from the Quebec Government -- which highlight worries of overexploitation in northern Quebec, unfair pricing for public timber by the Ministry of Natural Resources, and mismanagement of the forest resource by Quebec.
Romeo Saganash, Director of Quebec Relations for the Grand Council of the Crees stated, "We have the private wood producers publicly condemning the government for selling public wood in Quebec for a pittance and we have the president of Tembec, one of the big players in the forestry industry, warning of wood shortages and overexploitation in northern Quebec. This information should be front and center in any discussion of cross border trade on softwood lumber".
Over the past year Crees have made a number of excursions to Washington to inform U.S. trade officials and members of the Senate and Congress that unsustainable forestry practices in Quebec are violating the treaty rights of the Crees under the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement and international law. The Crees believe that if Quebec were to fully implement the environmental provisions of the Agreement to protect hunting and fishing and trapping the operating costs of the forestry companies would be significantly increased. For this reason, ignoring these provisions should be seen as a subsidy to the forest industry.
"We are working at cross purposes here" stated Bill Namagoose, Executive Director of the Grand Council of the Crees, "the same mechanisms, generous subsidies and over-cutting, that give Quebec companies a clear competitive advantage over the U.S. also are contributing to the destruction of the Cree way of life. So we are appealing to the Americans to pressure industry and government in Quebec to reform the province's forestry system." He added "since harvesting levels in Canada are driven more by markets than concern for treaties or the environment, we will have to try and influence the markets to safeguard our rights."
For more information please contact:
Bill Namagoose: (613) 725-7024
Romeo Saganash: (418) 564-1598
Sam Etapp: (514) 916-6367