Unfortunately the presses wait for no one. But the buzz of what happened in Oujé-Bougoumou March 31 will no doubt be making the rounds in the Cree communities. On that Tuesday, community members gathered to hear about the report, “Screening Level Environmental Risk Assessment: Traditional Territory of the Oujé-Bougoumou Cree Community”, a document that was built on past studies and contained no new data.

Steering Committee co-chairs Peter Campbell (Oujé-Bougoumou representative) and Denis Laliberté (Quebec government representative) and various other presenters got a big surprise when community members vigorously expressed their frustrations and disappointment with the lack of a remedial, restoration or containment plan. Instead audience members heard panelists suggest the idea of doing more risk-assessment studies.

In the eight years since the Covel Report came out, most community members, though expressing a desire to see some sort of restoration, containment or remedial works, have been very patient.

That patience ended at this meeting with many trappers and their families venting their frustrations and distrust in the current process.

Many said they had misgivings about the report and the progress to date. They asked why it took government experts so long to understand what the Crees have known for years – and Covel had confirmed – and when will there be an apology?

The explanation for the delay was that these risk assessments at Oujé-Bougoumou are the largest undertaken in Quebec, ever, and were compared with the investigation of the Sudbury, Ontario smelter.

The people were having none of it saying eight years was enough to begin some sort of plan to start repairing the land. At the end of the meeting, Chief Louise Wapachee stated her intent to include Covel on the Steering Committee as an independent third party since community members expressed their trust of Covel overwhelmingly.

Crees brought up the fact that they knew something was wrong a long time ago and they weren’t listened to by government authorities. Now they were demanding their voices be heard and solutions found and quickly implemented.

Chief Wapachee said the Band Council has heard the people and their wishes and concerns will be acted upon.

Democracy in action supported by the people and the leaders is something that can only make the Cree Nation stronger, both locally and regionally. Kudos go to all those who participated.

In the next issue of the Nation there will be a full story on the meeting along with a look at the report.


At the Nation, we take the environment to heart. We follow the news and report it whenever events occur that have an effect on our people. Barriere Lake is just one example of this.

But there are smaller actions that people can take to help the environment. You have certainly noticed the change in the Nation newsmagazine since issue 16-08. We are doing our share to help the environment and be more “Green”. Your Nation newsmagazine is now printed on non-chemically bleached newsprint paper made out of 50% recycled paper fibres with vegetable ink. In the end, our newsmagazine is lighter, so it takes less fuel to transport it to the communities, which is also good for the environment.