Tallymen are worried about how their traplines would be damaged by Hydro-Quebec’s proposed $2-billion-plus Rupert-Eastmain hydro project.

They say surviving in the bush will be much harder, if not impossible, for their families and future generations. All Crees will be affected in one way or another.

Two tallymen from Waskaganish and one from Nemaska spoke with The Nation.

Freddy Jolly, tallyman of Nemaska’s R-21 trapline, would see some of his land flooded, a giant spillway built in the middle of his trapline and the Rupert River cut off downriver. And that’s under the less damaging of the two variants H-Q proposes.

“I think everything is going to be affected, animals, birds, fish. The Old Post, Champion Lake, they will go dry,” he said.

“When I’m out there, I really think about it. I wouldn’t know where to go if it goes through. We wouldn’t go to another trapline. Once the land is affected, it affects you. I’m sure we’re going to be lost forever. We will be almost kicked out of our land.”

Jolly struck a defiant tone about the project. “They don’t even think of our land, the future of our youth. They’re going to destroy their future,” he said.

“All the tallymen, 200, 300 tallymen, we’re going to make war. We’re going to put the chiefs in front.”

Jolly said people who survive off the land should be consulted more on development projects, which Isn’t happening now.

Jacob Erless is the tallyman of the R-4 trapline, on the north shore of the Rupert across
Waskaganish. The project would dramatically cut the rlverflow here. Erless said H-Q or the chiefs have yet to ask his opinion on the project, first proposed two years ago.

“It’s going to destroy the river, the animals and fish on that land,” he said.

Erless, a father of six kids, said his family depends on the river to survive. “When I don’t have money, I go into the bush to get something to eat for my family,” he said.

“I don’t want that project made. It’s going to affect how we survive in the bush. I would say it’s going to be hard for those people or their kids (in affected traplines). Maybe they won’t know anything about the bush, those kids, if they don’t follow our footsteps.”
When we called, Waskaganish tallyman Roderick Blackned had just come from his trapline, R-13, where he lived all winter with three other families.

He said the project would have wide Impacts – “especially on fishing and some dandy spots for moose. We would lose quite a bit of our moose grounds, beaver, mink. Mostly that’s how we live. We could hardly make a living out of It (with the project).”

Blackned said the drying up of the Rupert would affect the tamarack he collects from the river’s shores to make decoys. Travel on the river would be greatly impaired. A new hydro project would also bring in more people from the south to put pressure on the land. Radisson already gets 12,000 visitors each year.

“We’ve had enough problems with LG-2. The people who gave away their land are suffering,” he said.