Inuit, Cree and Naspaki in northern Quebec are celebrating a major court decision involving caribou.
On August 4, the Quebec Court of Appeal found the provincial government violated their treaty rights when it set caribou sport hunting levels and dates for the 2011-2012 season in northern Quebec.
“It was very good news,” says Adamie Delisle Alaku, vice president for renewable resources with Makivik Corporation. “A very important victory for us.”
In March of 2011, Quebec’s Minister of Natural Resources announced changes to the sport hunting season for Nunavik’s Leaf River caribou herd. He also set the level for the George River caribou herd in lands governed by the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement.
In both cases, the minister didn’t wait for the advice of the Hunting, Fishing and Trapping Coordinating Committee — an advisory body created under the JBNQA.
The Quebec Court of Appeal ruled the minister failed to respect the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement and the Northeastern Quebec agreement, noting that such decisions will usually be struck down.
“Such is the price to be paid for preserving the honour of the Crown in carrying out treaties and in the protected nature of treaty rights,” wrote Justice Pierre Dalphond.
The aboriginal groups say both herds are in decline and it wants to reduce or even close down the sport hunt.
They accuse the provincial government of wanting to accommodate outfitters that serve non-aboriginal sport hunters.