North

Cree Grand Chief travels to Waswanipi to calm opposition

Cree Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come is meeting Monday with the chief and residents of Waswanipi to defend a forestry agreement signed a week ago with Quebec.

Community unhappy with forestry settlement signed with Quebec

Waswanipi members went to Quebec city to protest the agreement. (submitted by Julia Gull )

The Grand Chief of the Cree Nation is in Waswanipi, Que., trying to calm concerns over a forestry agreement signed last week between the Cree Nation and the province of Quebec. 

The deal was signed last Monday in Quebec City to resolve a long-standing dispute over how forestry industry was clear cutting on a large swath of land between Lac St. Jean and James Bay. The community of Waswanipi opposed the agreement, saying it threatened their efforts to protect the Broadback River Watershed, which is more than 600 kilometres north of Montreal, near the communities of Waswanipi, Oujé-Bougoumou and Nemaska.

It is the only intact forest left around Waswanipi and is an important habitat for the endangered woodland caribou herds. 

Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come will meet with Waswanipi Chief Marcel Happyjack and council this morning. This afternoon, the Grand Chief will take questions from Waswanipi people, including more than 60 tallymen, who have concerns over how the agreement will affect their traplines, according to Happyjack.

"They need to keep going with their lives and those whose lands are still somewhat intact don't want any or more forestry on their lands," said Happyjack. 

In an open letter issued before the meeting, Coon Come said he shared the community's concerns about protecting the Broadback River Watershed. 

"The agreement marks more of a beginning than an end," the letter from Coon Come states. "It closes no doors and opens many, including with respect to protected areas." 

The Baril Moses agreement was signed in 2002 alongside the Paix des Braves. 

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