Cree leaders in Quebec use social media for campaign against uranium

Cree leaders in Quebec are taking to social media to drum up support for their campaign against uranium development in their territory.

Drumming up support against development in their territory

Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come and environmental activist David Suzuki launch the #StandAgainstUranium social media campaign. (Facebook)

Cree leaders in Quebec are taking to social media to drum up support for their campaign against uranium development in their territory.

The community leaders say they may be far from urban centres — anywhere from an eight to 18-hour drive north of Montreal — but almost everyone has access to high speed internet and 3G cell service.

They want to make sure Crees show up and voice their concerns when the Bureau d'audiences publiques sur l'environnement (BAPE) province-wide hearings into the uranium industry come to northern Quebec next month.

They're also using Twitter to spread the word and gain support outside of Cree territory.

"We are encouraging the Cree Nation to participate in this important public process and to tell the BAPE what the Crees are thinking about uranium development in Eeyou Istchee," said Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come.

The Cree government has launched a website and social media campaign, #StandAgainstUranium. They are asking people to take selfies with the Stand Against Uranium sign.

"The Crees are only one voice and so we are seeking allies," said Coon Come.

A few weeks ago the Cree Nation government also released a trailer for a nine-minute film it sponsored, looking at the Cree's response to a proposed uranium project. The film, The Wolverine: The Fight of the James Bay Cree, was featured at the Uranium Film Festival in Germany last month.

The most advanced uranium project in the province is Strateco Resources' Matoush project, located in the Otish Mountains north of the Cree community of Mistissini.

The Cree Nation government firmly opposes all uranium exploration, mining and waste storage in Eeyou Istchee, Cree territory in northern Quebec.

In June 2013, Quebec's environment minister refused to grant Strateco the permits it had requested to go ahead with the project.

Coon Come says that decision was partly due to Cree opposition to the project.

Cree youth participated in anti-uranium demonstrations during Earth Day celebrations in Montreal, and protested during the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission's visit to Mistissini in June 2012.

"The BAPE is coming to Eeyou Istchee because of the strong stand taken by our people," said Coon Come.

"The Minister of Environment heard us when we said no to Strateco's Matoush project. The minister refused to grant Strateco's permit in large part because the project was not socially acceptable to us Crees — the population that would be most directly impacted. So we've won some important battles but the fight against uranium development is not over."

The BAPE will be in Chisasibi on Nov. 11, Chibougamau on Nov. 12 and Mistissini Nov. 13.

Those who wish to speak at the hearings must signal their intention to participate by Oct. 30.


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