Sun. Feb 25th, 2024

The protection of a virgin forest promised by Quebec never happened.

The Hurons-Wendat denounce “the’hypocrisy ” of the CAQ and ;call up roadblocks

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The forest that the Huron-Wendat call Ya'nienhonhndeh (“Where the medicinal plants are picked”) covers an area of ​​800 km², a large part of which is considered intact.

  • David Rémillard (View profile)David Rémillard

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Insulted by the “hypocrisy” of the Legault government, the Huron-Wendat Nation raises its voice and once again demands the transformation of the virgin forest of the lake into a reserve to Moses. More than two years after receiving a promise to this effect from the Minister of the Environment, Benoit Charette, the words “road blocks” are starting to circulate in Wendake.

In June 2021, Quebec announced the creation of a pilot project for a protected area of ​​sustainable use and indigenous initiative. The project in question was that of the Hurons-Wendat, refined for a decade by the Office of Nionwentsïo, the name given to the Wendat ancestral territory.

On the day of the announcement of the creation of this protected area, Benoit Charette affirmed that of the 750 km2 targeted by the project, a large part of the virgin forest was immediately placed under protection. ;logging.

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A map of the protected area proposed by Wendake

Or , the protection of this forest, located to the west of the Laurentides wildlife reserve, has not yet been achieved and the protected area is not legally constituted. On the contrary: sectors designated by Wendake are still allocated to forestry companies in the regional development plan, deplore the Hurons-Wendat.

Faced with the stretching deadlines, the great chief of the Huron-Wendat Nation, Rémy Vincent, no longer intends to laugh. Why hasn't this been put under reserve yet? he asks impatiently. The one currently blocking is only the government of Quebec.

After putting pressure on Quebec to accelerate its pace, Wendake criticizes the absence of consultations to define the limits of the protected area.

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Instead of responding to the demands of the Huron-Wendat, the Quebec government recently sent a proposal to Wendake to delimit the contours of the reserve zone, that is, the portion of the protected area without exploitation of resources. Mr. Vincent deplores the removal of approximately 40 km2 of intact or naturally regenerating forests (without human intervention).

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Lake Batiscan is part of the planned zone for the protected area.

We are trying to tamper with the surface area. It works underneath without consulting us. It is not normal for the Ministry of Forests to work behind our backs to establish new limits, argues the great chief. We're not in a healthy relationship right now. It's not complicated: it's hypocritical.

The strict conservation zone would thus increase from 375 km2 to 335 km2. The Grand Chief recalls that the law requires that at least half of a protected area for sustainable use be set aside. The government is breaking its own law with the current proposal, he says.

According to the Natural Heritage Conservation Act, a sustainable use protected area is characterized by the presence of natural conditions over the majority of its territory.< /p>

According to the Council of the Huron-Wendat Nation, the entrenched massifs correspond to sectors allocated to forestry companies in the 2018 development plan- 2023 for the Capitale-Nationale region.

Although Quebec has for the moment imposed cutting moratoriums for these sectors at the request of Wendake, the great leader's confidence is shaken. If the moratoriums are lifted, the loggers get in there and it's over.

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The Quebec government's proposal excludes a series of lakes used by the Huron-Wendat to move, hunt and fish. Quebec is removing some 40 square kilometers of intact forest, according to Wendake.

If this forest is cut down, the heart of the protected area will be cut down with it, insists Rémy Vincent. The Grand Chief calls for the immediate reservation of virgin forest areas and their removal from current and future forest management plans.

In a letter sent to the government at the beginning of the week, the Council of the Huron-Wendat Nation denounces the complete evacuation of the cultural aspect of the protected area project. The First Nation does not feel like it is speaking the same language as the provincial government and believes that the government's analysis is essentially economic.

Everything therefore suggests that this proposal to set aside territory for conservation purposes responds to economic prerogatives and interests rather than ecological and heritage ones, we can read in the missive.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">In response to this letter, Rémy Vincent obtained assurances from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests on Friday that no activity was being carried out. No forest development is planned or authorized throughout the protected area at this time.

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The great chef Rémy Vincent (Archive photo)

According to the agreement concluded between Quebec and the Council of the Huron-Wendat Nation, the project was to be co-chaired by the two parties, from nation to nation. We don't have the same definition of “co-presidency”, quips Rémy Vincent. He accuses the provincial government of working in silos and of not respecting its obligation to consult the First Nation.

The Council has reached the point where it cannot no longer knows how to be heard by Quebec. Although it considers itself open to compromise, the council is inflexible on the protection of the virgin forest.

During the interview with Radio-Canada, Rémy Vincent referred to the roadblocks of the Atikamekw communities that occurred in recent months, also to protect the territory ancestral indigenous logging.

I have some news for the minister: the territory does not belong to them. If it takes more than that in the region to be heard, it may start to happen. […] Should we go there? This is not where I want to go. But maybe we will have to do it, because there is no seriousness there.

A quote from Rémy Vincent, great chief of the Huron-Wendat Nation< /blockquote>Open in full screen mode

A massif of virgin forest designated by the Huron-Wendat Nation

Rémy Vincent recalls that the Wendake project is the first of its kind in Quebec and that the ways of doing things should become the model for others. This is the pilot project, this is what will dictate the way forward for protected areas of indigenous initiative [and sustainable use]. This is where the problem lies. Is it going to be like this for all First Nations? We got off to a bad start.

For its part, the government replies that it takes time to complete the work of preparing the protected area. Setting aside a territory requires a lot of work at the administrative level, which is what was done over the last year, indicates in writing the office of Minister Benoit Charette.

The conservation core to be set aside is only part of the planned sustainable use protected area. Talks will begin once this first step has been completed, we add.

In other words, Quebec intends to consult Wendake, but once the contours of the protected area have been defined. The government says it wants to consult all the stakeholders concerned in the territory before making decisions.

Wendake, for his part, assures that he has already done this work and that all partners, including forestry companies, support the protected area project as it was presented.

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