By Paul Gull, Chief of Waswanipi Cree Nation and Steven Blacksmith, Director of Natural Resources, Waswanipi Cree Nation
The traditional traplines of the Cree First Nation of Waswanipi are located in Northern Quebec above the 49th parallel. These Cree ancestral lands are home to some of our community’s last unspoiled and untouched forest and Quebec’s last intact ecosystems rich in biodiversity. Known to the Crees as Mishigamish, which means “big ocean” in the Cree language, this land mass which is part of the Broadback Valley Endangered Forest is in desperate need for permanent protection.
The Cree Nation of Waswanipi with the assistance of Greenpeace have asked the Quebec government to place restraint on further destruction of this beautiful area and encourage them to protect the wildlife and remaining old growth forest. These much needed conservation efforts will not only include the protection of wildlife for their intrinsic value but also guarantee continued Cree traditional practices such as hunting, fishing and trapping. Cree hunting leaders (tallymen) remain active in living from the land, guarding and protecting it from destructive commercial practices. As stewards of the land, they seek to safe guard it based on cultural practices, and the ecological values of its wildlife. The protection of this area not only guarantees the safety and health of these valuable bio diverse areas, but also contributes to the protection of the Cree people’s way of life. The community takes pride in our language, cultural practices, and traditional territory and we continually seek to protect it in all endeavours we undertake.
Cree lands already have over 30,000 km of forestry roads crisscrossing and disturbing its natural flow. Logging roads create access and an increased presence of wolves, the natural predator of the Woodland Caribou, a species listed as “threatened” within Canada. Increasing logging and forestry operations are quickly approaching the Mishigamish area, and the Cree First Nation of Waswanipi does not want further upheaval of the remaining forest and wildlife. They will continue their campaign and efforts to finding solutions and protecting this resource.
Furthermore, the Cree First Nation of Waswanipi is asking for your support today by any means possible. You are strongly encouraged to contact the Quebec government by letter or email and state your support of this urgent and pressing issue by requesting a ban on further logging of the Broadback valley and implementation of conservation efforts immediately.
On behalf of the members of the Cree First Nation, our community would like to extend its thanks and appreciation to the Greenpeace team, and our volunteers with this undertaking.
POINTS TO REMEMBER
- The Mishigamish protected area, part of the Broadback Valley Endangered Forest, will maintain intact and old-growth forests, high water quality, key wildlife habitat and quality areas for traditional Cree activities – all of these important in sustaining the Cree way of life.
- The Mishigamish protected area is necessary to maintain forest-dwelling woodland caribou – a species at risk - in the area. The protected area would contribute to advancing Québec’s objectives in its forest-dwelling caribou recovery strategy. In conjunction with adjacent protected areas, the Mishigamish protected area could contribute to a very large (> 10,000 km2) protected area for woodland caribou.