The community of Wemindji has been honoured with the Quebec government’s 10th annual Prix Phoénix de l’Environnement for their recycling program in the municipality category.

Wemindji’s environmental administrator, Johnny Mark, accepted the award on behalf of the community from Environment Minister Line Beauchamp May 31 in Quebec City. “We were not expecting such an award, it was a long shot but we were pretty excited” said Mark.

The community of Wemindji started up their recycling program in November 2006. “There is a lot of response and enthusiasm by the community members,” for the program, Mark enthused. The program complements the municipality’s incineration program and for the time being the sorting for the recycling program is being done in the same facility until a new building designed specifically for it is completed sometime next month. The recyclables are collected in Wemindji, and once they are sorted and compacted by the town’s vertical bailer, make a voyage to Chibougamau, where larger recycling facilities are available.

For the time being the community is paying for its own recycling program. “I don’t think that this one community can profit off of the recycling,” Mark explained. “But if all of the communities chipped in we might be able to officially meet our costs and break even. If we could achieve that we would be accomplishing a lot.”

According to Mark, the community of Mistissini is also considering a similar incineration/recycling program and he believes that it would be a promising project as Mistissini is even closer to Chibougamau.

Mark believes that Wemindji’s program is successful because it is “complementary to our traditional practices over here. There are not too many places in the North where you will find a landfill or a disposal site.”