As an ordinary displaced Cree hunter having ancestors who were the first inhabitants of this continent, the Prime Minister’s words struck fear into my heart “Use it or lose it” in talking about the North.
Municipalité de Baie-James and the provincial government’s plan for the north (where all our Cree ancestral lands are), including selling our water, seems unplanned to me. Never mind the fact that the lakes and rivers were our first highways.
First of all, we know what forestry did to our once healthy traplines, clear-cut them. That blew our fur market right out of the water and did not need the European fur market ban to do that.
The forestry companies did replant marketable trees again in rows. But we do not hunt or trap in these new forests because the animals and birds do not hang around or adapt to these stands. They do not even like the taste of them as we found out. Especially the rabbits do not like the taste of the replanted jack pines as much as the natural ones. And do not forget we Cree hunters, trappers are in the best position to monitor wildlife before and after development.
Today – did anybody ever consider outright compensating the hunters, trappers for all the unnecessary hardships that followed after the onslaught of large clear-cutting? NO! And we were here first. By the way – isn’t the “James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement” supposed to guarantee our hunting and trapping rights as long as the moon and stars shine?
Large hydro projects with their dams, reservoirs, powerlines and mining projects destroying large lakes with their toxic wastes, reservoirs with old dykes, ready to break anytime (some broke already) have all taken their toll on our Cree traplines. We know for a fact, there are some lakes (here in the north) that have large fish (adult) only because of the mining and their pollution destroying the reproduction in the fish system. And certain governments are turning a blind eye on these big polluters, especially the mining companies.
It’s us Cree people (hunting society) that get poorer and no place to hunt when development just comes in and wants us to move out, and we were here first and the longest. It just does not seem fair at all.
When are we going to wake up and realize that ever since the revolution of the industrialized world, it has destroyed everything natural in its path, especially the hunting societies anywhere around the world.
This has always been the pattern (history has proven) on this planet. Global warming is one definite proof of this.
Read the Nation (July 17, 2009) on “Climate-change criminals.” Part of a sentence reads “Canada is now perceived around the world as an environmental outlaw.” And goes on to state “(Canada’s) pollution is literally killing the future of the poorest people on the planet.”
During a meeting with certain forestry companies my (90-year-old) father who never left the trapline once said, “The animal is more intelligent than the stupid human being who is set on destroying his habitat.”
Bishop Desmond Tutu once said, “You can never wake up the person who is pretending to sleep.” I think the leaders of this country and in this world (including Aboriginal leaders) are all pretending to be asleep.
The turning wheels of the industrialized world does only one thing – plunders or destroys from our hunting society’s viewpoint. It does not like green but raw dirt.
Just look around near you or your home in our Cree communities where the non-Natives worked, all you see is dirt, ditches, dirty pools of water, where all their heavy machines worked. And it will stay like that, even after they are long gone. Only our children will play there.
I have found out that what one heavy machine can destroy unnecessarily in half an hour, to replace the landscape somehow in the same area it would cost around $15,000 to $20,000, with a lot of manpower.
I hear in the Arab countries, where there is only desert, they are working hard (costing them lots of money) to turn that country into green.
Here in the Great North, non-Natives and their companies are doing just the opposite.
One day, our children will pay for this, to turn it back into green.
M.B.J. and their governments, with their plan of the North (where all our traplines are situated), will do just that, what I mentioned above, if we do not try and stop them.
Each and every one of us must be sure that no foreign governments take our lands and waters away from our people.
And our children never to say “Once upon a time, this was our land” as one Elder reminded us, before.