WASWANIPI, QC, Jan. 19, 2016 /CNW Telbec/ - Speaking during the public hearings of the Environmental and Social Impact Review Committee (COMEX) being held today in his community, Chief Marcel Happyjack of the Cree First Nation of Waswanipi made an unequivocal statement against the continuation of development in the last remaining untouched portion of the Broadback River Valley forest.
"In recent decades, the demand for resource extraction in our territory has caused major disruptions to the environment and to wildlife," Chief Happyjack stated. "Up to now, 90% of our ancestral land has been stripped and divided by carved up by logging roads, with the result that only three of the 62 trap lines allocated to Cree families remain untouched by forestry operations today."
For several years, the Waswanipi Council and Chief Happyjack have been calling for the complete protection of this portion of the forest, which plays a vital role in preserving the Cree way of life and contributes to protecting endangered species, such as the woodland caribou, on the Eeyou Istchee ancestral lands.
Chief Happyjack told the COMEX: "What we are condemning is not necessarily forestry operations as such, but rather the proposed roads and planned logging on the last 10% of virgin forest that is now vulnerable, unprotected from the forestry companies. Because Quebec has pledged to protect 50% of the area where it has established its Plan Nord, it makes complete sense that it must safeguard the last remaining intact portion of the boreal forest. The overall plan must not be sabotaged already by allowing new road construction." He continued: "The time has come to acknowledge that we can no longer ignore existing data that illustrates the legitimacy of our position on the urgent need for a protected area in the Broadback River Valley."
The COMEX has a more specific mandate to examine the proposal to develop two logging roads approximately 126 kilometres long at Km 105 of the Route de la Baie-James (Route 109) and Lac Quénonisca.
SOURCE Conseil de la Première Nation Crie de Waswanipi
For further information: SOURCE: Marie-Céline Charron, Cell: 514-250-7353, [email protected]; INFORMATION: Glen Cooper - Communication and Public Relations Officer, [email protected], 819-753-2587; Steven Blacksmith, Director, Natural Resources, 819-753-2587, [email protected]