NEMASKA, QC, July 3, 2014 - Earlier today representatives of the Cree Nation Government/Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) announced their support and sponsorship of a youth canoe expedition in support of the campaign to protect the Broadback River and surrounding watershed. The 2014 Broadback River Youth Expedition is being organized by the Cree Nation Government Environment and Remedial Works Department and the Cree Nation Government Youth Department and is scheduled to depart near the headwaters of the Broadback River on August 7th with its conclusion in Waskaganish on or about August 25th.
Deputy Grand Chief Rodney Mark who has been mandated to advance the protected areas file for the Cree Nation Government/Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) commented on the expedition:
"Our Cree elders have long recognized the importance of major river systems like the Broadback, for sustaining the natural environment upon which they depended and through this youth canoe expedition we wish to transfer this recognition to a new generation of Crees."
The Crees first expressed their desire to have a significant portion of the Broadback River protected as part of the Charest Government's commitment to protect 50% of Québec's north under the Plan Nord. With expectation that Premier Couillard will revive Charest's protection vision under a Plan Nord re-launch, the Cree Nation Government/Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) views the canoe expedition and the Broadback protection proposal as a means for the new Government to demonstrate that it is serious about the Plan Nord and its protection goals.
Grand Chief Dr. Matthew Coon Come summed up the Crees position on the Broadback proposal:
"The Cree Nation Government is seeking to protect a significant portion of the Broadback River Valley which is not only culturally and historically relevant for 5 Cree communities, but also holds some of the last remaining intact forest stands in Waswanipi's territorial lands. This is why it is no surprise that the area also remains one of the last refuges for Québec's endangered woodland caribou. To ignore this protection opportunity would suggest that the Government is not serious protecting Québec's patrimony."
As part of the 40th anniversary celebration of the formation of the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee), the expedition participants will be honoured guests at the Cree Nation's Annual General Assembly proceedings on August 6th in Waswanipi.