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Unamen Shipu opposed to mining potential mapping ral

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For the moment, Quebec's project consists only of acquiring new knowledge in the Lake Coacoachou sector, an area where the province indicates that it has little geoscientific information. (Archive photo)

  • Charles-Étienne Drouin (View profile)Charles-Étienne Drouin

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The Innu community of Unamen Shipu is opposed to Quebec mapping Lake Coacoachou to identify the mineral potential of the land.

At the beginning of the month of December, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests (MRNF) published a call for tenders to map this sector, located on the Lower North Shore, this summer. To do this, the province wants to charter a helicopter that will fly over the region.

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For the Innu of Unamen Shipu, Lake Coacoachou is part of the community's traditional territory.

We don't want the cartography affair, just like the dam [hydroelectric on the Petit Mécatina river], says the head of Unamen Shipu, Raymond Bellefleur.

We are isolated, but we are close to the territory. We protect our territory.

A quote from Raymond Bellefleur, leader of the Unamen Shipu community

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A major hydroelectric project located on the traditional territory of the Innu of Unamen Shipu is planned on the Petit Mécatina River, despite the categorical opposition of the leader of the Unamen Shipu community, Raymond Bellefleur. The latter criticizes Hydro-Québec for carrying out initiatives on its territory without its consent. (File photo)

In a written statement, the Quebec government indicates that the community was consulted in spring 2023 regarding the project. p>LoadingDid her bottle of Pine-Sol make her sick?

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Although the project has no impact on traditional activities of the Innu community of Unamen, since it involves data collection and rock sampling, the community was still informed of the project, declares the MRNF in writing.

For his part, Raymond Bellefleur says the community was not informed. The Innu of Unamen Shipu have never been consulted. What they are doing there is on paper, it is written [in the notice published online], he considers. Consultation is very important. They should come on site if they want to consult.

When I I have business with Quebec, I go to Quebec. They should do the same thing, come see us in our community.

A quote from Raymond Bellefleur, leader of the Unamen Shipu community

However, he suggests that the project could possibly obtain the approval of the Unamen council Shipu.

If Quebec comes to consult us on site with the population, we would be satisfied. Currently, I am not satisfied with what they write [in the notice published online], he adds.

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Unamen Shipu First Nation is home to approximately 1,200 people. (File photo)

The lawyer for the Innu of Unamen Shipu, François Lévesque, does not close the door to recourse to the courts if the community judges that it has not been adequately consulted between now and the start of the mapping project.

It is quite easy to demonstrate that the approach is not in the public interest. In any case, it is not in the interest of the people who reside in [Unamen Shipu]. Perhaps a request for an injunction could be granted, says Me Lévesque.

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François Lévesque is a lawyer notably for the communities of Pakua Shipi and Unamen Shipu. (Archive photo)

For the moment, the project only consists of acquiring new knowledge in the Lake Coacoachou sector, an area where Quebec indicates that it has little geoscientific information.

The province specifies that it is premature to consider the development of a mining site at this time.

Associate professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at UQAM, Normand Goulet, estimates that current data in the sector dates back around fifty years.

All we know is that these are rocks dated to around 2 billion years old. […] For future generations, I consider that we must take inventory of geological concepts. It’s research, argues the professor.

Currently, people are looking for a lot of critical minerals, including lithium and graphite. We don't even know if the rocks contain them to the east, in the Lower North Shore. You have to go see.

A quote from Normand Goulet, associate professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at UQAM

You need to know the subsoil before having projections for critical minerals. It starts with mapping, he adds.

Mapping work with a helicopter should take place from June 2 to August 14, according to the call for tenders published online.

The land that must be mapped is part of public land, according to the written declaration from the MRNF.

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