Following the release of the COMEX report regarding the proposed construction of two major access roads in sections H west and I on Waswanipi territory, and the certificate of authorization issued for these projects, the Cree First Nation of Waswanipi is satisfied that the approval of these roads in the Broadback Forest will not encroach on its proposed protected area.
The certificate of authorization issued by the Ministry of Sustainable Development, the Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change followed all of the COMEX recommended conditions associated with this project, reducing the extent of the proposed forest access roads by 43 per cent and leaving their last three intact traplines untouched. The Waswanipi Crees welcome the report recommendations outlined, which were decided upon following thorough consultations with a number of groups including the Cree First Nation of Waswanipi, various forestry companies, scientific experts and environmental groups.
“The report’s recommendations are straightforward; forestry companies must sit down with us and discuss any development project to be executed on our territory,” says Marcel Happyjack, Chief of the Cree First Nation of Waswanipi. “The Cree Nation of Waswanipi is open to economic development and we believe it can be achieved in a sustainable and ecological manner while respecting our traditional Cree way of life and maintaining positive relationships with the forestry companies.”
Important conditions in the certificate of authorization, as recommended by the COMEX, include:
“Condition 8: The developer will submit for the Administrator’s approval, within three months of project approval, a study on archeological potential. This study will be based on a cartographic analysis of environmental, cultural and historical factors and also on interviews with elders and users of the territory.
Condition 9: The developer will establish a monitoring committee with the community of Waswanipi, including tallymen, to make known the progress of work, the expected impacts, the mitigation measures that have been implemented and the results obtained with respect to monitoring of the woodland caribou. The developer will send the minutes from this committee to the COMEX for information.”
Though the COMEX’s mandate focuses on individual projects rather than on the cumulative impact of forestry on the environment and wildlife, the Crees greet the report and its conditions since the protection of the Woodland Caribou remains of high importance. “We urge the government to consider the report’s conclusions and guidelines and take them into consideration as it moves forward with the Plan Nord project in order to protect as much intact boreal forest as possible,” adds Chief Happyjack.
Moving forward, the Cree First Nation of Waswanipi is optimistic that forestry companies will fully comply with the Cree’s legitimate requests and the report’s requirements, and participate in open and honest discussions to explain all details of their development plans.