Québec City, July 13, 2015 – “We are taking yet another significant step today in the Nation-to-Nation relations between Québec and the Cree.” It is in these terms that Québec Premier Philippe Couillard welcomed Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) Matthew Coon Come at the ceremony at which a new partnership and collaboration agreement was signed.
For this occasion, minister of Forests, Wildlife and Parks Laurent Lessard, Minister of Sustainable Development, the Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change David Heurtel, Minister responsible for Native Affairs Geoffrey Kelley, and Minister responsible for Canadian Intergovernmental Affairs and the Canadian Francophonie Jean-Marc Fournier accompanied the Premier.
“The Québec government is firmly determined to maintain harmonious, respectful relations with First Nations and Inuit. Based on this agreement, we are enhancing our relationship with the Cree. Moreover, I welcome Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come as a key partner for the development of Northern Québec, the protection of the territory and the collaboration with local and Aboriginal communities,” the Premier noted.
The agreement signed today covers specific objectives such as forestry harmonization in the territories defined by the Baril-Moses document, which also concerns hunting, fishing and trapping activities, in addition to facilitating the harmonization of the adapted Forest regime.
“I am indeed pleased with this agreement, which pursues an open relationship that respects values and the shared interests of the Cree Nation and Québec. It is a concrete example of the manner in which Québec wishes to associate the First Nations and the Inuit with enlightened resource development. I would like to take advantage of this opportunity to invite the Innu community of Mashteuiatsh (Pekuakamiulnuatsh Takuhikan) to participate in future discussions since the agreement calls for their participation in the process focusing on forestry operations and woodland caribou when they inform of us their willingness in this respect. We believe that their participation in such deliberations is essential,” Minister Geoffrey Kelley added.
Specifications of the Agreement
The Québec government undertakes to implement the terms and conditions stipulated in the Baril-Moses document throughout the territory that it defines as of the date of signing.
The Québec government and the Cree Nation undertake to establish a common task force comprising the Cree, the Innu and the Québec government in order to propose as quickly as possible consensual measures concerning forest management standards in the Baril-Moses territory.
By December 1, 2015 at the latest, an agreement on the harmonization of the adapted Forest regime and the Sustainable Forest Development Act must be concluded between the Cree Nation and the Québec government.
Conservation and the environment
Pursuant to the agreement, Québec undertakes to designate as a protected area and a biodiversity reserve the Broadback River sector, which would cover a total area of 9 134 km2, i.e. the existing Dana Lake and Les Tourbières-boisées-du-Chiwakamu proposed biodiversity reserves (505 km2), the Assinica National Park reserve (3 193 km2) and the new territories that will be protected east of the Assinica National Park reserve at Waswanipi Lake and in the Evans Lake area and the Broadback River (5 436 km2).
The Québec government undertakes to implement measures to promote the restoration of woodland caribou in Québec. To this end, it will promptly contact experts and users of the territory.
“The protected areas in the Broadback River sector add a significant dimension to the agreement reached today both from an environmental standpoint and as regards the protection of the natural heritage that we share with the Cree. By mutual agreement, we are reserving for the Cree and Quebec youth a portion of the vast territory that will remain intact to engage in traditional activities. Furthermore, the establishment of this protected area is contributing significantly to the objective of setting aside by 2035 50% of the Plan Nord territory for purposes other than industrial ones, environmental protection and safeguarding biodiversity. Together, we can develop Québec responsibly in a spirit of respect for our objectives to fight climate change in order to ensure the quality of life of future generations,” Minister David Heurtel said.
Through the signing of the agreement, the Québec government undertakes to establish a joint Cree-Innu-Québec government working group on forestry to propose consensual measures in forest management in the territory. This will enhance and adjust the forest regime and standards stipulated in the Baril-Moses document. Moreover, the Cree and the Québec government will pursue discussions in order to conclude an agreement focusing on the harmonization of the adapted Forest regime and the Sustainable Forest Development Act.
“The signing of the agreement confirms the common values shared by the Cree Nation and Québec, including sound forest management. This collaborative regime marks a further step forward and confirms the importance of the forest industry in the economic life of our communities. Furthermore, the agreement paves the way to the impending implementation of the government strategy concerning the restoration of the woodland caribou habitat,” Minister Laurent Lessard noted.
“The conclusion of agreements with our Aboriginal partners demonstrates our desire to work together for Québec’s development. To ensure sustainable northern development, our priorities must include environmental protection throughout its territory, including the protection of forests and the preservation of endangered species such as the woodland caribou. We must ensure that the heritage that comprises our natural resources is a source of prosperity and wealth for all Quebecers, north and south of the 49th parallel, for decades to come,” Premier Couillard concluded.
The unabridged document and the maps in the Agreement can be consulted here.
Media Relations Coordinator
Office of the Premier of Québec
Office of the Minister of Sustainable Development, the Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change
Office of the Minister responsible for Native
Assistant press Officer
Office of the Minister of Forests, Wildlife and Parks