There used to be a lot of moose on Muskuchii Mountain. Now there are few, if any. And local trappers know who is to blame: Normick Perron, the company that’s been logging in the area for the past eight years.
“The mountain is very valuable to natives and for trappers. It’s kind of sacred,” says Bert Moar Jr. Bert’s father, Bob Moar Sr., is the tallyman on the trapline at the southern end of the Waskaganish Territory most affected by the clearcutting.
“He wasn’t too happy about this,” said Bert, who is also the Waskaganish First Nation’s forestry coordinator. “The clearcutting will result in the destruction of one of our southern-most traplines. But the problem isn’t just with one company. The fact that the province can divide up land and give it out for cutting is a problem.”
Band officials can’t say much about the issue for the moment because they are in the middle of discussions with Normick Perron about its logging.
Normick Perron, based in La Sarre, is a subsidiary of the Noranda forestry empire. The company did do one environmental impact study, but only on the 23-km access road connecting its logging sites with the road running from Matagamito La Sarre. Daniel Gagnon, the company’s superintendent of forests, says Normick Perron has cut 500,000 cubic metres of trees in the last eight years. It is presently cutting at a rate of 100,000 cubic metres a year, and the company just got another five-year license from the Quebec government. The company has another operation near Senneterre, and two more in northern Ontario.
Gagnon said the company has discussed with Waskaganish the idea of giving Crees some jobs at its campsites or in tree planting. Also discussed was the possibility of not cutting in certain sensitive areas. But Gagnon ruled out the idea of compensating trappers affected by the clearcutting. To begin with, he claimed, Waskaganish hasn’t even asked for such compensation.
“It’s public lands, Category III. The only compensation is to the government because it’s public lands,” said Gagnon. “We haven’t opened up the doors for other compensation.”