It was with shock, outrage and anger that I learnt of the latest chapter to the James Bay II saga. I, and the many others, who fought Great Whale (a.k.a. James Bay Phase II) felt the same. We awakened to yet another Friday the 13th part 8; movie where the evil rises again and again. I had the urge to “cry havoc and let loose the dogs of war.”
The battle against Hydro-Quebec had been won, or so we thought. Parizeau said it had been indefinitely shelved less than a year and a half ago.
Celebrating at that time, we had our swords beaten into plowshares and we settled down to a well deserved rest. A mega-corp had been brought to its knees by good common people. Cree, Canadian, Quebecois, American or European—–it didn’t matter because we all participated in one of the greatest non-violent victories known to North America. It is now clear we had underestimated the tenacity of the enemy. How could we have gotten so complacent?
When the heat of my anger settled I began to look at what was going on.
First the Montreal paper Le Devoir comes out with a story on Hydro-Quebec’s latest brainchild. They plan to divert four rivers on Innu land. Then The Nation found out they also want to divert the Great Whale and Ruperts Rivers. Why? Because reservoir levels aren’t high enough. Why? Because they have been selling power to the US market at below the cost of production, so the Americans have been buying more and more. Why not? They aren’t fools, if someone is selling you something this cheap, you are going to buy, it’s just economics. In order to sell the “surplus” power to the US, Hydro-Quebec scarified its water levels in the reservoir, draining them to dangerously low levels. Now they say they need more water and that they will look at diverting more rivers into existing systems. Of course this is to supply domestic needs in Quebec. Are we supposed to believe that it is just chance that their sales to the US has tripled since 1990? (See story page 5).
Enter some secretive meetings the Chief of Great Whale seems to have been kept in the dark about. He’s upset and hoping that deals aren’t being made behind his back.
Sounds a little paranoid, until you hear that other Chiefs knew about it, but not the guy from one of the rivers on the sales block. See story page 5 for more details.
Then the spin doctors come out preaching the news stories are premature. Hydro says its just planning to study the diversions. The stance from the Quebec government and Hydro is “Relax, we’re just talking. It’s only a study!!”
Personally I have problems with a study. Like wouldn’t it be a good idea to see if you even need one? If indeed Cree consent is really needed, or will be respected wouldn’t it be a good idea to find out if you were going to get that consent first? Could save the taxpayers,… er Hydro-Quebec a lot of money.
Everyone I talked to, both in and outside of Canada, all say that we would like to stop this latest plan from Hydro-Quebec before it even gets started.
The word is traveling thoughout the land. All those who fought Great Whale to a standstill don’t want another fight because we are tired of the war. But we are awakening and readying ourselves for battle once more. The feelings that I, and others, had back in the days of fighting James Bay Phase II have not died. The networks and people that were in place for that first fight are reconnecting and organizing even as you read this editorial.
You will notice the news stories and articles are all signed “by Nation Staff.” This is because all of us at the Nation are working on them and will continue to bring you the latest information, news and updates as they become available. We know that this is of grave importance to the Cree Nation as a whole.
The Grand Council/CRA Annual General Assembly is on August 13. I am sure this will be on the agenda and as in the past years the Cree people will continue to insist on controlling their own destiny. I know we can count all Crees to support the people of Whapmagoustui, Waskaganish, Nemaska and any other Crees, who would be affected by this new version of James Bay Phase II, in their time of need.