The Cree Nation of Waswanipi, with the support of a team from Greenpeace, organized a media expedition to the Cree ancestral lands in the Broadback Valley “Endangered Forest”. Joined by journalists from Agence France Presse (AFP), the Journal de Montréal, videographer Annie-Claude Roberge, members of the Waswanipi Cree Nation, including the chief, council members and elders, led a tour of one of Quebec’s last, large intact forest areas. The Cree extended a very warm welcome in contrast to temperatures that hovered around -40°C.
90% of land already impacted by the logging industry
The village of Waswanipi sits in the Nord-du-Québec region, between Chibougamau and Senneterre, surrounded by many forestry companies that have exploited the areas for decades [French only]. And it’s this intense industry presence that forces the Cree to head north more than 100 km along logging roads and another 140 km on snowmobiles over frozen lakes and trails to reach the edge of the last intact forest areas left on their territory. This is where the Cree are fighting to protect what’s left of their ancestral lands.
Already, 90% of the Waswanipi Cree Nation’s territory has been logged or fragmented. The Cree have recorded more than 32,000 km of logging roads on their land, a number that is growing by 1,000 km each year, according to Chief Paul Gull. To stop this, they are advocating for a protected area of 4,000 km2 to ensure the last intact wilderness area on their land remain standing. This area would in addition to large protected area proposals by the neighboring Nemaska and Ouje-Bougoumou Cree Nations, bringing the total area under protection to a vast 13,000 km2.
Logging industry threatens the Cree way of life
During the several days of the expedition, the stories of the elders, the chief and the Cree trappers were had one thing in common: the growing number of forest clearcuts and logging roads threatens the Cree’s way of life: traditional hunting, trapping and fishing activities based on close contact with the forest and its wildlife, a way of life that depends on ecosystems remaining healthy and functioning. The Cree have noted that logging activity has driven out American marten, the wolverine, the fisher and woodland caribou from their land.
An expedition in full colour
Check out this slideshow of images from the media expedition that show the hospitality of the Cree and the importance of protecting the Broadback Valley. We’d like to thank especially our Cree guides: Stanley Saganash, Benny Blacksmith, Jeremy Jolly and Don Saganash Sr. who made this an unforgetablle oddyssey the journalists and the Greenpeace team. Thank you also to Chief Paul Gull, Director of Natural Resources Steven Blacksmith, trappers Malcom and Philippe Saganash and elder Joseph Neeposh for their touching stories and their love for the Boreal Forest. We’ll stand with you until your land is finally protected!