Northern Quebec Cree start 850 km trek to protest against uranium mining
Joshua Iserhoff killed his first black bear this fall on his grandfather’s territory of EeyouIstchee, in northern Quebec.
It was a proud moment for him as a young Cree man, but also a significant one for the whole family which had gathered for the fall hunting season.
We are the stewards of the land, therefore we have this responsibility to protect for the generations to come- Joshua Iserhoff, Chair of the Cree Nation of the Youth Council
In a way, he feels this year he gained a real sense of what that territory meant for him.
“I would want my children to experience it, I would want my grandchildren to experience this. It just came full circle for me in the past month as we want to protect this land for future generations”, said the young Cree leader.
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This weekend Iserhoff, who is the chair of the Cree Nation Youth Council, will join a group of Crees walking to Montreal to hand deliver a message to the province's environmental protection agency's (BAPE) commission on the uranium industry in Quebec.
The group has a message for BAPE: There will be no uranium exploration and exploitation on the Cree territory of Eeyou Istchee.
“We are the stewards of the land, therefore we have this responsibility to protect for the generations to come,” Iserhoff said.
The walkers will be leaving Mistissini this Sunday to travel over 850 kilometers to reach Montreal by Dec. 15, the last day of the BAPE’s public hearings on the uranium industry in Quebec.
They want other nations and other Quebecers to join the walk.
“Innu’s are coming, Algonquins are coming and maybe Atikamekw," Iserhoff said.
The Crees are only one voice and so we are seeking allies.- Matthew Coon Come, grand chief of Cree Grand Council
The trek is one of the many strategies used by the Crees to protest against uranium mining in their territory.
The Cree Nation government firmly opposes all uranium exploration, mining and waste storage in Eeyou Istchee, Cree territory in northern Quebec.
A couple of weeks ago the Cree government launched a website and a social campaign: #StandAgainstUranium.
They are still asking people to take selfies with the Stand Against Uranium sign.
The government also sponsored The Wolverine: The Fight of the James Bay Cree, which was presented at the Uranium Festival in Germany last September.
"The Crees are only one voice and so we are seeking allies," said Matthew Coon Come, the grand chief of the Cree Grand Council.
One of the most advanced uranium projects in the province is the Strateco Resource Matoush project in Otish Mountain, north of Mistissini.
In 2013, Quebec became the third Canadian province, after Nova Scotia and British Columbia, to establish a moratorium on uranium development.
In light of that moratorium, Quebec's environment minister refused to grant Strateco the permits it had requested to go ahead with the project.