Whapmagoostui is back in international waters in its fight against the idea that Hydro-Quebec might endanger their river and homeland. A tour was recently launched to draw attention the issue in the U.S.
On October 14 at Dartmouth College, the official tour launch was off and running. The tour is designed to draw U.S. attention to Hydro-Quebec’s recently announced plans to revive aspects of the controversial James Bay II hydroelectric project.
Cree activist Diane Reid and Chief Matthew Mukash of Great Whale head up the tour. Accompanying them on their journey is POWER, the documentary on the first fight. POWER follows the successful five-year international campaign waged between 1990 and 1995 to stop continued development on their homeland. The tour will take in more than 25 locations throughout the U.S. Northeast.
The new allies to the fight are the film’s producers. They are organizing the film and lecture tour in collaboration with Whapmagoostui First Nation. Tour organizers say they want to sensitize Americans living in the Northeastern United States to the issue since they are the major purchasers of Quebec hydroelectricity. They also see the tour as a way of renewing old contacts. Crees remember the impact that New England and New York environmental groups played in the cancellation of Hydro-Quebec’s original proposal.
Under the new proposal, Hydro-Quebec would divert the Great Whale and Rupert rivers into existing hydro facilities. Even though this is early in the fight Deputy Chief David Masty of Whapmagoostui said, “It’s better to attack the idea before it materializes any further and much money is spent on it.”
Tour organizers say the film will be of particular interest to those concerned about Native and environmental issues.
Robert Kennedy Jr., a member of the National Resources Defense Council, described POWER as “a manual for indigenous people, for environmentalists and human rights groups about how to battle successfully a project like Great Whale.”