Blockade season has hit with a bang in Northern Quebec and forestry is at the heart of the tensions – from Cree land to Algonquin.
In Waswanipi, reports are coming in that youth and trappers are itching to hit the barricades. “Everyone’s a walking timebomb,” said one resident. “If we get our act together and everybody blocks a road, we won’t have enough roads to block. We’il be blocking our driveways,” he quipped.
One inebriated trapper was seen walking around the community early in the morning with his gun, an axe and packsack trying to talk his friends into blocking the highway.
He was finally convinced to go home.
Meanwhile, in Algonquin land, the roadblocks are already here. First, Winneway kicked forestry workers off its land in a protest over logging. With negotiations with Quebec going nowhere fast, the workers blocked the highway just outside another Algonquin community, Lac Simon. The workers wouldn’t let Native motorists through, but non-Natives could move freely.
Frustrated Lac Simon residents set up their own blockade in protest. Unsatisfied, the forestry workers set up a third blockade to protest the second one. Everything ended peacefully.
Tensions are now being inflamed by Montreal crime tabloid Photo Police, which waded into the issue in its June 2 edition. In an unsigned article, the tabloid said it’s no surprise the “Whites of Val d’Or” are sick of “all these goddamn (maudites) demands.”
“It seems the more we give the Indians, the more they want. And the more they have, the more studies show they are incapable of getting out of their problems with drugs, alcohol and conjugal violence,” says the tabloid.
With most Natives living in big cities, the “temptations are higher than at the side of the river (in a tent). And the cost of living too. So it’s not surprising that they demand the money of people who work from morning to night to pay the taxes from which the Indians are themselves exempt,” the tabloid adds.