Mistissini (Eeyou Itshee), September 3, 2014—On the occasion of the hearings by the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE) in Eeyou Istchee this week, the Cree Nation reaffirms its strong opposition to uranium development, and its commitment to ensuring that its territory of Eeyou Istchee remains free of uranium mining activities.
“The Cree Nation stands united against uranium mining activities on our lands,” said Grand Chief Dr. Matthew Coon Come. “The profits from uranium mining are short-lived, but the tons of tailings that will inevitably be left behind will remain toxic and radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years. This imposes an unacceptable burden on future generations.“
“Development on our territory requires our free, prior and informed consent,” said Richard Shecapio, Chief of the Cree Nation of Mistissini. “Our people have concluded that the risks inherent in uranium mining are not compatible with our responsibilities to protect the environment upon which our way of life depends. Our position is clear: there will be no uranium exploration or mining on our lands.”
The Grand Council enacted a permanent moratorium on uranium development in Eeyou Istchee in August 2012, and reaffirmed this position in August 2014. The most advanced uranium exploration project to date in Quebec, Strateco Resources Inc.’s Matoush Project, was located 215 km north of Mistissini, on traditional family traplines. The Cree Nation of Mistissini, supported by the Grand Council of the Crees and the other Cree communities, vigorously opposed the project, which was ultimately rejected by the Quebec government in November 2013.
“The support and involvement of the Cree Nation is an essential aspect of successful development initiatives in Eeyou Istchee,” Grand Chief Coon Come noted. “We support responsible development in our territory, including mining. Eeyou Istchee is blessed with an abundance of natural resources, and these provide immense opportunities for cooperative and sustainable development, without mining uranium.”
The public hearings this week in Mistissini, Chisasibi and Chibougamau mark the beginning of the BAPE’s question and information phase, the second phase of the BAPE’s year-long inquiry regarding the uranium sector in Quebec. Further public hearings are anticipated in the late fall. The BAPE’s hearings in Eeyou Istchee are co-chaired by the James Bay Advisory Committee on the Environment, the consultative body created under the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement. The BAPE must table its recommendations regarding the uranium sector in Quebec by May 20, 2015.