NEMASKA, EEYOU ISTCHEE, QC, April 18, 2014 /CNW/ - The Grand Council of the Crees has called upon the Premier and his government to ensure that, in accordance with existing agreements and in order to facilitate the participation of the Crees, English versions are prepared for all documents relating to the public hearings of the Bureau d'audiences publiques sur l'environnement (BAPE) regarding the uranium sector.
"The Cree Nation and I have awaited with strong interest the release of the public consultation document concerning the mandate recently entrusted to the BAPE concerning the impacts of uranium exploration and mining in Québec", said Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come. "We were troubled to learn that the complete document was made available on Wednesday only in French, when it is well known that a large proportion of the Cree population does not speak that language. The English summary document that has been made available is brief and incomplete. This situation does not facilitate the full participation of the Cree Nation in this important process and does not respect the Crees' treaty rights."
Uranium is an issue of pressing national concern for the Cree Nation. A large proportion of uranium deposits and of uranium exploration projects in Québec are located in the Eeyou Istchee territory.
"The Cree population is most directly affected by uranium-related activities in Québec", noted Grand Chief Coon Come. "Moreover, a nation-to-nation agreement was concluded between the Crees and the Québec government prior to the announcement of the BAPE mandate. This agreement confirmed the commitment of the Québec government and the Minister of the Environment to ensure that the BAPE mandate concerning the uranium industry in Québec will not infringe the treaty rights of the Crees under the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement. The release of this consultation document in its complete form exclusively in French does not adhere to the spirit or the letter of this commitment."
The James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement clearly affirms that the Cree people are entitled to a special status and involvement over and above that provided for in procedures involving the general public through consultation or representation mechanisms whenever such is necessary to protect or give effect to Cree treaty rights. (JBNQA, Section 22.2.2).
The BAPE's mandate to conduct an inquiry and public consultation concerning the uranium sector was granted last March by the Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment, Wildlife and Parks.
SOURCE: The Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)
For further information:
Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)
Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come
Bill Namagoose, Executive Director
Jessica Orkin, Legal Advisor