Chisasibi residents can blame Hydto-Quebec for the bitter cold that has gripped the community this winter. “This winter is the worst one we’ve had,” says Robbie Matthew Sr, former chief of the Chisasibi First Nation and a former president of the Cree Trappers’ Association.
Temperatures have fallen to around -40 degrees Celsius during the night, and at times to -50 degrees. Dams upstream have increased the flow of water so much, ice no longer forms on the La Grande in winter. Freezing mist rises from the open water and sends temperatures plummeting in Chisasibi.
After the LG-1 power project comes on-line just up-river from the community, Matthew added, the water-flow will increase even more, making the cold spells worse. “We feel that, in the future, we will have even more difficulty.” Matthew said the cold has affected the health of Chisasibi residents, especially older people and those with breathing problems. He said more planning was needed when the community was moved, so it wouldn’t have been located so close to the water.