Le Lézard
Classified in: Business
Subjects: ECO, NTA, ANW, DEI

INDEPENDENT COMMISSION ON WOODLAND MOUNTAIN CARIBOU: A GLARING LACK OF CONSIDERATION OF FIRST NATIONS' RIGHTS AND INTERESTS


WENDAKE, QC, April 11, 2022 /CNW Telbec/ - The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) deplores the Government of Quebec's failure to consider the rights and interests of First Nations in relation to the Independent Commission on Woodland and Mountain Caribou (hereinafter the Commission).

This commission is a ploy that the Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs (MFFP) has found to push back the development and implementation of the strategy for the protection and recovery of forest and mountain caribou and their habitat. It legitimizes the Government of Quebec's inaction in protecting and restoring caribou and their habitat.

  1. The Commission does not propose any specific consultations with First Nations, despite it being a constitutional obligation of the Crown.

    According to Chief Terry Shaw of the Gespeg Mi'maq Nation: "Caribou are a vital resource for our First Nation. Any decisions or actions taken with respect to it must be discussed with First Nations. By acting alone with its Commission, the Government of Quebec is not meeting its obligation to consult, nor is it respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples."

  2. The "no impact on the forest industry" scenario plans to abandon the three caribou populations of Val-d'Or, Charlevoix and the Gaspé Peninsula and thus ignores the socio-cultural impacts of such a decision on First Nations rights.

  3. Prioritization of economic issues and the preservation of precarious jobs are proposed at the expense of a species of cultural importance.

For many years, First Nations have joined their millennial knowledge of caribou with the expertise of researchers and experts to protect and restore populations and their habitat. With what now has become a recurring feeling of disbelief and anger, First Nations once again witness the Government of Quebec's lack of seriousness and willingness to truly protect caribou and their habitat. Once again, the government is putting natural resource development ahead of the rights of First Nations. Moreover, the seriousness of the First Nations' expertise is clearly denied, and as denounced by the Chief of the Innu of Ekuanitshit, Jean-Charles Piétacho: "First Nations know their land, wildlife and plants better than anyone else. Their millennial knowledge combined with the expertise of their own specialists have always allowed them to establish their own rules and practices to protect caribou. It is time for the Province of Quebec to realize this and take it into account."

The AFNQL regrets that the Commission's mandate is to assess the economic impacts of caribou protection measures on the forest industry, rather than to take into account the impacts of logging on caribou and the rights of First Nations.

Just recently, MFFP Minister Pierre Dufour came out of a Government-Industry Strategic Forum organized in collaboration with the Quebec Forest Industry Council (CIFQ) where he reported a very positive assessment of the targeted revision of the forestry regime.

He may be the only one who has made a positive assessment of the situation, because according to Chief Lance Haymond of Kebaowek First Nation: "When we talk about forestry and wildlife management, nothing goes with the MFFP. For years, we have been telling the MFFP that their methods do not work. The MFFP consultations are a joke! Almost everything is decided unilaterally by Quebec, after which we are invited to share our concerns, and our concerns are never fully taken into account. Things must change!"

Our rights, our knowledge, our expertise, experience and spiritual connection to caribou give First Nations a responsibility to the next 7 generations and to this end, we intend to take the necessary steps to ensure protection and recovery of caribou and their habitat.

About the AFNQL  

The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador is the regional political organization that brings together the 43 Chiefs of the First Nations in Quebec and Labrador. Follow the AFNQL on Twitter @APNQL  

SOURCE Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador


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