NEMASKA, EEYOU ISTCHEE (QUEBEC), December 5, 2013: Strateco Resources today commenced new legal proceedings against Quebec Environment Minister Yves-François Blanchet, seeking to nullify the Minister’s recent refusal to issue an authorization for the Matoush advanced uranium exploration project. The new proceedings also request that the Court force the Minister to grant an authorization for the Matoush project.
“This new legal action is the latest step in Strateco’s long-standing efforts to circumvent Cree treaty rights,” said Grand Chief Dr. Matthew Coon Come. “The Cree Nation will continue to take all necessary steps to protect our health and our environment, and to ensure that our treaty rights are fully respected. We will seek to participate fully in Strateco’s latest proceedings.”
Minister Blanchet issued the decision that is the subject of Strateco’s new legal challenge on November 7, 2013. In this decision, the Minister stated that he was refusing to authorize the Matoush project because of the absence of social acceptability for the project, particularly amongst the Crees.
“The Cree Nation’s position is clear: uranium mining and uranium waste are not welcome in Eeyou Istchee,” said Mistissini Chief Richard Shecapio. “We are not prepared to assume the grave risks that uranium mining presents, for hundreds of future generations.”
Located near the Cree community of Mistissini on Cree family hunting lands, the Matoush project is the most advanced uranium project to date in the Cree territory of Eeyou Istchee and in Quebec. The project has attracted significant public opposition. In August 2012, the Cree Nation declared a permanent moratorium on all uranium activities in its traditional territory of Eeyou Istchee. In March 2013, the Government of Quebec declared a temporary moratorium on uranium mining throughout Quebec while it holds province-wide public hearings regarding the uranium sector in Quebec. More than 300 municipalities in Quebec have passed resolutions calling for a permanent moratorium on uranium exploration and mining in Quebec.
“The social acceptability of development projects in Eeyou Istchee is a fundamental aspect of the successful nation-to-nation relationship between the Cree Nation and Quebec,” Grand Chief Coon Come noted. “The Minister’s decision regarding the Matoush project recognizes and reflects this important principle. We are confident that the Minister’s decision will withstand Strateco’s legal challenge.”
The Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) is the political entity that represents the James Bay Cree people. The Cree Nation of Mistissini is one of the larger communities within the James Bay Cree Nation, and is located at the southeast end of Mistassini Lake.