Ouje-Bougoumou Elder Jimmy Mianscum remembers a time when fish, game and animals were abundant on his hunting ground and the environment was undisturbed. Today, most of his traditional territory is clearcut, roads and transmission lines zigzag across his land. Gold and copper mines were developed and abandoned, his lakes and rivers polluted. Outfitting camps and cabins are being built everywhere. The town of Chibougamau, the gateway to the north, was built on his family’s sacred hunting ground.
Regional resources development and industrial noise have dramatically reduced the number’of fish, game and animals that used to provide a good living to Jimmy and his family.
Mr. Mianscum says that all this development was done without his consent. “The first white people who came to my camp 50 years ago never asked me if they could build a road, a mine or a town here. In those days, there was no infrastructure like the Band Council or the Grand Council that I could approach for help.”
The story of “Eeyou Astchee” damaged by the push of industry into Northern Quebec is not a new one—it has been repeated countless times since the arrival of mining and forestry companies in the ’50s and ’60s and Hydro-Quebec sent its construction crews into Cree Territory in the early 70s.