Thu. Feb 29th, 2024

Protection of the caribou: “we are forgotten”, say the Mi’gmaq

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The chief of the Mi'gmaq Nation of Gesgep requests the signing of a co-management agreement between Quebec, Ottawa and the First Nations. (Archive photo)

  • Pierre Chapdelaine de Montvalon (View profile)Pierre Chapdelaine de Montvalon

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Like other First Nations, the Mi'gmaw communities of Gaspésie do not feel considered by the Quebec government in the protection of the caribou, according to the chief of the Micmac Nation of Gespeg, Terry Shaw.

We do not understand the inaction of the Quebec government, their strategy. Are you to drive the caribou to extinction?, asks Terry Shaw.

The chief indicates that the three nations mi' gmaw have nevertheless communicated their concerns and interests in this matter to the governments of Quebec and Canada.

There is nothing concrete or serious put into action, he laments.

We are forgotten.

A quote from Terry Shaw, chief of the Micmac Nation of Gespeg

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Chief of the Micmac Nation of Gespeg, Terry Shaw (Archive photo)

Terry Shaw also regrets not having been invited to meet Prime Minister François Legault during his visit to Gaspésie in November. The Prime Minister's Office did not respond to our request for information on this subject.

The case of the Mi'gmaw nations is not isolated.

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In Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean, the Innu communities of Essipit and Mashteuiatsh are suing the Quebec government because they believe they were not consulted on the caribou protection strategy .

In Gaspésie, there are only around thirty caribou left alive, according to the inventory carried out in 2022 by biologists from the Ministry of Wildlife.

Terry Shaw also deplores the illegal killing last October of a female Gaspésie caribou, a symptom of the inaction of the Quebec government in protecting the species, according to him.

The caribou is very important to us. Is this poor land management? We are asking ourselves serious questions, he says. We can no longer afford to make mistakes.

The leader of the Listuguj community, Scott Martin, also deplores such an act.

He recalls that the Mi'gmaq government of Listuguj does not support any caribou hunting in the Gespe'gewa'gi, the traditional territory of the Mi'gmaq of Gaspésie.

The Ministry of the Environment, the Fight against Climate Change, Wildlife and Parks announced that it had arrested several suspects in connection with this illegal logging.

For Chief Martin, this act of illegal killing demonstrates the need for an increased presence on the territory to ensure that hunting is done in a responsible and respectful manner.

Scott Martin says he notices a lack of wildlife protection agents to patrol the territory.

In recent years, the number of agents has fallen. They are no longer present on the ground, they can no longer cover the whole of Gespe’gewa’gi, he judges.

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Listuguj Chief Scott Martin (File photo)

The Quebec government confirms this trend. There were 64 agents in 2021, 59 in 2022 and 56 in 2023 in the district which includes Bas-Saint-Laurent, Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine and Chaudière-Appalaches.

Scott Martin therefore proposes the establishment of joint patrols with wildlife protection agents from the Quebec government to compensate for this deficit in the territory.

The Listuguj Rangers are already responsible for supervising hunting on the nation's territory and replaced the fisheries officers in September 2022.

Often , people say that it is the natives who slaughter these animals. With these patrols, we could reestablish the truth, he says.

We must be part of the solution.

A quote from Scott Martin, leader of the Mi'gmaq government of Listuguj

Chief Terry Shaw calls for the signing of a co-management agreement between the First Nations, Quebec and Ottawa to slow the decline of the Gaspé caribou.

We have meetings, but there is nothing concrete, notes Terry Shaw.

Regarding joint patrols, Scott Martin indicates that discussions are taking place, but no agreement has been signed.

Meanwhile, Terry Shaw calls the government to implement the measures proposed by the Independent Commission on Forest and Mountain Caribou.

I call on the government to act, because tomorrow , it will be too late, fears the head of Gespeg.

For his part, the head of Gesgapegiag did not respond to our requests for an interview.

For its part, the cabinet of Minister of the Environment indicates in writing that meetings with indigenous communities have taken place and that a consultation period is also planned before the adoption and entry into force of the strategy. protection of the caribou.

  • Pierre Chapdelaine de Montvalon (View profile)Pierre Chapdelaine de MontvalonFollow

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