Monday, September 25, 2023

A protected area harmed by an old territorial conflict

wo years after announcing the creation of a protected area of ​​sustainable use to conserve the virgin forest of Lac à Moïse, northwest of Quebec, the Legault government still does not dare to launch the project, due to the lack of a territorial agreement between the ferrets. -Wendat and the Innu of Mashteuiatsh.

According to several sources close to the matter consulted by Radio-Canada, it is clear that the conflict between Wendake and Mashteuiatsh is currently causing doubts in the Quebec Government, to the point that the protected zone project led by Wendake is stalled.

The agreement between Quebec and the Huron-Wendat Nation Council provided for the establishment of two vice-presidencies, one provided by the Huron-Wendat First Nation and the other by the provincial government, while the Innu were not included in the plans. .

Lake Batiscano.

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Lake Batiscan is part of the planned area for the protected area.

Despite an announcement by Environment Minister Benoit Charette in June 2021, no working committee has yet been created to ensure the creation of the protected area.

The next big step to make this sustainable protected area a reality is the establishment of a steering committeeindicates the Ministry of the Environment in an email sent to Radio-Canada.

Virgin forest

The protected area of Ya’nienhonhndehwhat does it mean where medicinal plants are collected in the Wendat language, he had to travel 300 km2 of forest undisturbed by human activities.

The project was developed entirely by the Huron-Wendat Nation over the past ten years. In collaboration with numerous scientists, Wendake painted a portrait of fauna, flora and ecosystems.

The objective of this protected area was, among other things, to protect former forest areas from the forestry industry, which was targeting certain volumes of wood in the sector.

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About 450 km could be added to this area.2 of protected territory under conditions to be defined, within the framework of a pilot project for this type of areas that do not yet exist in Quebec.

To date, neither the virgin forest nor any other portion of territory has been included in the province’s registry of protected areas, even though Minister Benoit Charette promised the immediate protection of the conservation core of the Ya’nienhonhndehspecifically the oldest forest masses.

However, a moratorium has suspended logging for several years, especially after pressure from Wendake.

More than two years have passed since the Legault government’s promise to create the protected area.

Quebec, for its part, claims to maintain dialogue with Wendake. Discussions are currently underway between the Huron-Wendat Nation and the Ministry of Environment to determine operational methods.indicates a ministry spokesperson by email.

In fact, the First Nation has been kicking its heels and saying it’s ready to move forward for more than a year.

The Great Chef Rémy Vincent In His Office.

Under the leadership of Grand Chief Rémy Vincent, the Huron-Wendat Nation Council decided to move forward without Quebec.

A first work meeting took place on August 24, at the request of the Huron-Wendat. Representatives of the provincial government, both the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Natural Resources, attended, but only as observers.

The Huron-Wendat National Council is aware that this was not an official coordinating committee meeting. With his approach, Wendake wanted above all to send the signal that the First Nation was ready to work.

If it was not the coordination committee promised by the Government of Quebec when the pilot project was formalized, the Huron-Wendat Nation, through this table, assumes the responsibility of initiating a consultation process for the implementation of the protected area project.

Although Quebec declines to participate more actively in the project, the Huron-Wendat Nation Council welcomed the presence of government representatives. We are confident that this meeting will be the first of several and that the file, which we have been working on for more than 10 years, will finally be able to move forward with the Quebec government.

Territorial conflict

Quebec’s doubts come at a time when tensions persist between the Mashteuiatsh Innu and the Huron-Wendat.

The day after the announcement of the creation of the protected area, his absence at the negotiating table was deplored by the Innu, who claim territories that cross the Nionwentsïo Huron-Wendat, including the part of the proposed Moses Lake protected area.

The Innu First Nations of Mashteuiatsh, Essipit and Nutashkuan, who form the Petapan group, demand territorial recognition in a portion called the Southwestern Part. According to them, Nitassinan, the name given to the traditional Innu territory, would extend to Quebec, passing through Charlevoix to the Lac à Moïse forest, further west.

The 2004 Comprehensive Agreement In Principle Delineates In Green The Territories Of Four Innu First Nations, Including Mashteuiatsh.  The Blue Part Is The Southwestern Part Claimed By The Innu And Is Located In The Heart Of Nionwentsïo, Ancestral Territory Of The Huron-Wendat Nation Outlined In Red.

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The 2004 Comprehensive Agreement in Principle delineates in green the territories of four Innu First Nations, including Mashteuiatsh. The blue part is the southwestern part claimed by the Innu and is located in the heart of Nionwentsïo, ancestral territory of the Huron-Wendat nation outlined in red.

The borders of this portion of territory were delimited in a general agreement in principle, signed by the Petapan group with Quebec and Ottawa, in 2004. The document, however, does not serve as an official treaty and since then tensions have persisted between the Innu. and Wendake.

The Innu and Huron-Wendats, who cannot agree on the borders of their respective territories, particularly in the Laurentides Wildlife Reserve, are urging governments to sit down and draw the line with them.

Recent tensions

Last summer, the conflict took a new turn when Innu camps were destroyed in the Laurentides Wildlife Reserve. The Mashteuiatsh Innu First Nation accused Wendake of committing acts of vandalism. The case will end up in court this fall.

At the same time, the Quebec government, through Prime Minister François Legault, committed to signing an agreement with the Petapan group before the end of March 2023. This agreement was rejected by Quebec and has not yet been closed.

In the case of the Lac à Moïse protected forest area, a source familiar with the matter admits that, in this context, Quebec remains cautious due to the absence of the Innu at the coordination table. They do not recognize that it is an official committee due to the absence of the Innuindicated this source.

In 2021, a pilot project for a sustainable use protected area was announced to preserve the virgin forest of Lac à Moïse, northern Quebec, from any logging.

For their part, the Innu of Mashteuiatsh maintain that their presence is essential for the realization of the protected area project. Our First Nation must be truly involved in the development of this protected area of ​​Lac à Moïse that is part of our ancestral territory.writes Karen Robertson, First Nation communications advisor.

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