After battling Hydro-Quebec to a standstill, Crees are fixing their sights on the logging companies.
With frustration about clearcutting running at an all-time high, southern Cree communities and CRA are busy planning a campaign on forestry.
Thanks to Quebec’s notoriously lax rules on logging, forestry companies have already clearcut 50 per cent of the forests in the Waswanipi Territory. Many traplines are completely devoid of trees.
“We’re tackling this issue head-on,” said Jack Blacksmith, coordinator of the Cree Forestry Working Group.
“It’s about time somebody did.” Many Waswanipi trappers are calling for a road blockade to put muscle behind the Cree campaign.
Chief William Mianscum says there is growing “resentment” in Mistissini over indiscriminate clearcutting. “When they cut, they have complete disregard for what the trappers want.” He described how one forestry company pretended to consult trappers about where to cut and then went on to log in areas sensitive to Crees anyway.
“When the cutting started that’s when people realized that they have no respect for me. They’re cutting where I told them not to cut. Now, people are reluctant even to meet with them.” The forestry working group was created by the Council Board in January and has held meetings in April and June. It has representatives from Waswanipi, Ouje-Bougoumou, Mistissini, Waskaganish and Nemaska.
Those representatives are now consulting people in their communities about how they want to fight the logging. These concerns will be brought back to the next meeting of the working group at the end of July.
Blacksmith said Crees don’t want to shut down the logging operations, just protect their land and way of life. “Some of our traplines are being totally logged out,” he said. “They’ve always thought the trees are limitless, but I think they know now that’s not the case.”