A new initiative launched by the Grand Council of the Cree’s (GCC) and the Cree Regional Authority (CRA) on April 10 seeks to protect the Broadback River and preserve the wildlife in the region for future generations. “Forty years ago the Government of Québec put the Broadback River on notice for its destruction by way of hydro-development.  Today the Cree’s request the river to be put on notice for its protection,” said Grand Chief Mathew Coon Come during the announcement of the new conservation effort.

One of the targets of these efforts is to preserve the roaming woodland caribou herds of the region. Over the past few years, the caribou herds have been on the decline to the point that the GCC and the Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources have classified the herds as “non-sustaining.”

Nature Quebec welcomed the news of the conservation efforts. “It is an excellent approach to conservation,” said Christian Simard, Director General of Nature Quebec, of the innovative approach taking by the GCC and the CRA  “it provides one area that has strict protection over the territory reserved for the Caribou and a less restricted area of conservation adapted for the rest of the Broadback River watershed.”

Despite being spared from being a part of the Nottaway-Broadback-Rupert hydro complex with the signing of the Paix des Braves agreement in 2002. The untouched ecosystem around the Broadback watershed has been dwindling under the strain of persistent resource development around the area. “In Waswanipi’s traditional territory, only the areas around Lake Evans and immediately north of the Broadback river remain road-less, untouched by forestry development,” said Waswanipi Cree First Nation Chief Paul Gull,  “Once these areas are gone, there will be no place left in Waswanipi to show our children what the forest was once truly like when our elders thrived there.”

These conservation efforts were inspired by the goals set out by the Plan Nord and it marks the starting point of a broader long term strategy being established by the CRA and the GCC.