Quebec’s Minister Responsible for Wildlife and Parks says privatizing the Caniapiscau River is out of the question. Last month, the Nation reported Club Chambeau requested exclusive access to fish along the Caniapiscau River.
The area is of primary interest to both the Cree and the Naskapi, meaning that it impacts on the traditional activities of the people. The Cree, Inuit and Naskapi members of the Hunting, Fishing and Trapping Coordinating Committee (HFTCC) had approved the request in a telephone conference vote held July 18,2000, while the members of the Hunting, Fishing and Trapping Coordinating Committee (HFTCC) had approved the request in a telephone conference vote held July 18,2000, while the Grand Council of the Crees did not support it.
The deal seemed to be on its way to approval but the Quebec Ministry of Parks and Wildlife issued a press release stating that they have “no intention of privatizing the river,” or any others in the province. Jimmy Momeau, the general director of the regional municipality of Caniapiscau, says a very public outcry from citizens in the area has halted the deal.
“We have the same position as the natives regarding the protection of the resources,” Momeau says. The municipality is still waiting to hear from the Minister responsible for Parks and Wildlife regarding this issue even though the government states in their press release that they are “currently engaged in constructive talks with representatives of the area…
Obviously there has to be a consensus in the region regarding such a project.”
The Director of Communications for the Ministry of Parks and Wildlife says that it is a very “hot topic” right now and they are currently evaluating what to do. Over the next two or three months they will consult groups who have an interest in this area -the Naskapi, the Cree, the MRC, the municipality of Fermont, Club Chambeau and other outfitters – to try to come up with an alternative proposal.
John Mameamskum, the Director-General of the Naskapi Nation and member of the HFTCC says, “Quebec has been pushing the deal for many years and we’ve been very reluctant to approve any kind of deal that gives a carte blanche to an outfitter who has no respect for hunting, fishing and trapping rights… I’m very glad the Minister came to his senses and said no.”
The next meeting of the HFTCC will be in March and the issue will be brought up again regarding further course of action.