NEMASKA, Eeyou Istchee, QC, May 15, 2013 /CNW/ - Earlier today the Grand
Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) issued a formal challenge to the
FSC Certification for Forest Management Unit 025-51 in the Saguenay Lac
Saint Jean region in Québec held by Resolute Forest Products Inc. This
is the largest Forest Management Unit in Québec.
In its brief to Accreditation Services International (ASI), the
organization overseeing auditors contracted by forestry companies for
FSC certifications, the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)
contends that Resolute Forest Products' refusal to respect the Baril-Moses Agreement between the Crees and Québec constitutes a major infringement to FSC's
International Principles 1 (compliance with laws, agreements and
treaties) and 3 (compliance with the rights and interests of Indigenous
Peoples) and by extension, Canada's Boreal Standard.
Signed in 2002, the Baril-Moses Agreement extended many of the forestry provisions of the Paix des braves Agreement to Cree traplines located east of the "height of land" in the Saguenay
Lac Saint Jean Region. From 2002 to 2009, Resolute Forest Products
operated within the provisions of this Agreement. In 2010, the company knowingly and unilaterally implemented forestry
management plans contrary to the Baril-Moses Agreement.
In reflection on these events, Dr. Matthew Coon Come, Grand Chief of the
Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee), stated: "Since signing the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement, the Crees have vigorously defended all their agreements with
governments. The Baril-Moses Agreement is no different and resource companies, regardless of their size, must
be held accountable to these agreements."
The Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) submission to ASI marks
the second time that the Crees have challenged this certification. In
the fall of 2012, the Crees successfully contested this certification
with Resolute Forest Products auditors, Rainforest Alliance, who
assigned a "Major non-conformance" to Resolute Forest Products for
failing to obtain the Crees' free and informed consent for forestry
operations contrary to the Baril-Moses Agreement. Last month, Rainforest Alliance, in a review of the certification,
revised its previous decision, thereby reconfirming Resolute Forest
Products' certification. The Crees' submission to ASI is an appeal to
Rainforest Alliance's recent decision.
Forest certifications under FSC's Principles are unique among other
forestry certifications systems in that they require companies to be in
compliance with international laws, and to gain the free, prior and
informed consent of Indigenous Peoples whose lands they operate upon
(FSC Principles 1 and 3). The Crees' challenge to Resolute Forest
Products' certification is important because it constitutes one of the
few cases whereby this concept of free, prior and informed consent is
clearly documented. To the Crees, this case is as much a challenge to
Resolute Forest Products as it is a test of FSC's Principles.
According to Isaac Voyageur, Director of the Cree Regional Authority's
Environment and Remedial Works Department: "If Resolute can be
certified without meeting FSC's Principles, what will happen in the
future to the other FSC certified companies in our territory that have
met these Principles? Resolute Forest Products should be held
accountable to the same standards as the other FSC certified companies
harvesting on Cree traplines."
Resolute Forest Products' operations on Forest Management Unit 025-51
have been controversial as they were the subject of an aborted
challenge by Greenpeace under the terms of the Canadian Boreal Forest
Agreement (CBFA). The Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) notes
that according to maps on CBFA's website and those used by Greenpeace,
the traplines under the Baril-Moses Agreement fall within CBFA's moratorium.
SOURCE: Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)
For further information:
See www.gcc.ca for the Complaint Report
For more information please contact:
Geoffrey Quaile, Senior Environment Advisor, GCCEI
Telephone: (819) 775-0301
(French Inquiries) Stephan Ouellet, Forestry Engineer, CRA
Telephone: (514) 349-8395