As Domtar’s new logging road winds into Category II land despite Cree protests, some Waswanipi residents are talking about taking desperate measures to fight forestry.
Domtar has started to build the road despite the protests of the Waswanipi Band Council and residents. Forestry in other areas continues without a solution in sight.
At the recent Special Assembly on Natural Resources, great concern was expressed by Crees from all the communities about forestry.
Frustrations have also been rising because a Cree forestry campaign cannot be undertaken until Crees speak with one voice on the issue. They can’t do so if some argue for compensation agreements while others seek a campaign to have Cree rights in Eeyou Astchee respected.
While disagreement on strategy continues, some Crees are growing impatient and speaking of taking matters into their own hands.
“It’s going to be a hot summer,” promised one Waswanipi resident, who wished to remain anonymous.
“It’s time for Native people to make a stand. The government and the companies think they have the last say on development. Because the Cree people have been saying we’re non-violent, they’re saying, well, we’ve got them boxed into a corner – we’re going to run them over whether they like it or not. Well, they’re wrong.”
He said some Crees are talking about burning down trees that are scheduled to be cut down. “We don’t want violence. One way to have no violence but still keep our lands and maintain the wildlife would be to just light up our forests.”
Look for an increase in “accidental” forest fires this summer, he said. “Sometimes southerners come into our traplines and accidentally start fires. Some people are tempted to let them burn because there is development in that area,” he added. “The only thing we want is to keep our lands and preserve the wildlife so we can live in our traditional way. But we aren’t being heard.”