Broadback: Cree First Nation Delegation in B.C. to Learn About Protecting Forests from First Nations and Engos Who Signed Great Bear Forest Agreement
Vancouver, March 7, 2016 — Set against the climate action talks in Vancouver between the Prime Minister and Premiers as well as the 2016 GLOBE Leadership Summit for Sustainable Business, the Cree First Nation of Waswanipi met with B.C. First Nations, environmental groups and others who were directly involved in negotiating the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement, to learn about how to best protect their forests in the Broadback region.
The meetings came a week after the official signing of the Agreement, 20 years in the making, and a day after the Great Bear Rainforest Forest Management Act was introduced in the B.C. Legislature by Premier Christy Clark’s Government.
The groundbreaking Agreement provides for the protection of 85 per cent of the Great Bear Rainforest, an area the size of Ireland on B.C.’s north and central coast. The region is the habitat for the rare Kermode or Spirit Bear and is one of the Earth’s most important temperate rainforests. The Agreement involved the Provincial Government, 24 First Nations, environmental groups and the forest sector. It provides for a four-tiered protection system, co-managed by the First Nations, with varying degrees of activities allowed. Nearly a half a million hectares are completely protected, and an additional 1.5 million hectares are conservancies that recognize the First Nation’s importance. In the 15 per cent of the area that allows logging, the Government of B.C. and timber companies agreed to only use ecosystem-based management, which recognizes ecological integrity and human well-being.
“We thank the First Nations who met with us and shared their vision for the Great Bear Rainforest,” said Chief Marcel Happyjack, Chief of the Cree First Nation of Waswanipi. “A key learning for us was that willing partners, such as the Province of B.C. and logging companies, can find creative solutions that work for everyone. We are bringing this lesson back to our discussions with Premier Couillard, the Premier of Quebec and the logging sector.”
In addition to the protection of the Great Bear Rainforest, the First Nations worked with the Province to develop an innovative way to manage climate change: carbon credits managed and sold by the Great Bear Forest Carbon Project. An audit process determines how much carbon is “sunk” by keeping more forest protected. The carbon credits are then sold on the market, benefiting both the Government of B.C. (the main customer) and the First Nations who own the credits. This funding is used to create jobs, notably in the monitoring and stewardship of the area.
“We heard from one Chief that the Great Bear Agreement has now resulted in as many jobs – in stewardship work – as was once created by logging. This proves that protecting forests does in fact create jobs” said the Chief.
The First Nations that Chief Marcel Happyjack and his delegation met with have offered to visit the Broadback in the near future to provide additional advice on how the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement and the Carbon Project can provide a model for solutions that benefit all Quebecers, including the Cree First Nation of Waswanipi.
“If the Province of B.C. and First Nations can sign the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement, we see no reason why we can’t achieve something similar in the Broadbank area with the Province of Quebec, to protect the remaining 10 per cent of unlogged area in our territory,” said the Chief.
Chief Happyjack and his Deputy Chief Mandy Gull travelled to British Columbia with an 8-person delegation that included community members of the Cree First Nation of Waswanipi, hunters and trappers and talleymen, who are Cree land stewards. They met with the following First Nations, individuals and organizations:
- Coastal First Nations Great Bear Initiative (represents nine signatory Nations)
- Kitasoo/Xai’Xais First Nation (signatory Nation)
- Nanwakolas Council (represents seven signatory Nations)
- George Abbott (former Province of B.C. Minister of Sustainable Resource Management during key Great Bear Rainforest negotiations)
- Greenpeace Great Bear Rainforest Campaign
- Canopy (an environmental group that works with forestry companies on sustainable practices)
- NatureBank (carbon credit trading advisors)
Glen Cooper – Communications and Public Relations Officer
The Housing department will host an Information session on HOME OWNERSHIP AND YOU on March 3, 2016 starting at 6:00 PM. This session with take place at the CFNW Administration Building (Band office). Everyone is Welcome!
Broadback: Cree First Nation and Coalition to Urge Quebec to Take a Stand to Protect One of Last Intact Forests
Quebec City, February 22, 2016—As the Environmental and Social Impact Review Committee (COMEX) assesses a project by the logging industry to build two access roads into the Broadback forest, the Cree First Nation, several environmental groups and scientific experts are joining forces to save one of Quebec's last pristine forests and asking the government to fully protect the Broadback Forest.
Commenting on recent remarks by Premier Couillard on the importance of protecting environmental resources such as Anticosti Island, Marcel Happyjack, chief of the Cree First Nation of Waswanipi, made a direct link to the Broadback issue. “I understand his position and his desire to protect an important natural area. That same logic should be applied to the Broadback forest, the last 10% of intact boreal forest on our traditional territory, and one of our best tools against climate change,” said Chief Happyjack at a news conference in Quebec City.
Similar to Anticosti, the Broadback River Valley is a unique and beautiful area and it is currently threatened by new logging operations. It is a vital area for rare old-growth trees and one of the last refuges for threatened species such as the Woodland caribou. It is also a vital area for the Cree people, as the Cree way of life and economy are still reliant on abundant, healthy animals and plants from an uncompromised environment. But, as forestry continues to push further and further north, insufficient critical habitat remains to support viable caribou populations.
For years, Waswanipi has been calling for the complete protection of this portion of the forest. Again, at the public hearing held by COMEX on January 19, in Waswanipi, the community unanimously and unequivocally expressed its opposition to new forestry activity in this area. In addition, more than 9,000 people wrote to COMEX asking that the project be rejected via www.savethebroadback.ca . “Now is the time for action. We urge the Quebec government to respect the Cree Nation and our way of life and to protect the entire Broadback”, said Waswanipi Chief.
“Our land has been heavily impacted by forestry and other development activities for decades. It is now time to save what is left before its too late. I urge Premier Couillard to respect the Cree Nation of Waswanipi's aim and protect the Broadback forest as soon as possible", added Romeo Saganash, MP for Abitibi-Baie-James-Nunavik-Eeyou and member of the Cree First Nation of Waswanipi.
Recent efforts not enough
In a recent agreement to resolve the dispute with the Cree Nation over the implementation of the 2002 Baril-Moses agreement, Quebec protected an area north of the Broadback River. While it was a fine gesture, it was not enough since it ignores the vast majority of the land that needs protection.
Quebec has agreed to set up a committee with Waswanipi and the Cree Nation government to find solutions, but, to date, the committee has not made any real progress. This is why Waswanipi is now urging the Quebec government to publicly reiterate its commitment to complete the Broadback protected area, and to enter in a meaningful and timely negotiation process that would lead to the announcement of the full protection of the Broadback by July 2016.
In this regard, the Quebec government can take the example of the British-Columbia government, which just signed an agreement with First Nations and the industry for protect the Great Bear Rainforest, which will now be conserved and protected from forestry. This recent agreement shows what can be achieved when everyone acts in good faith.
Today’s news conference was also a demonstration of solid widespread support inside and outside the Cree Nation. Attending the event were Romeo Saganash, MP for Abitibi-Baie-James-Nunavik-Eeyou, Melissa Filion from Canopy, Nicolas Mainville from Greenpeace, Pier-Olivier Boudreault from CPAWS, as well as biologist and caribou expert Serge Couturier.
“Our message is clear: no more development can be allowed in the Broadback River Valley, for the sake of our planet, the survival of the caribou and the protection of our Cree way of life,” concluded Chief Happyjack.
PME information session will be held on February 9, 2016 at 9:30 AM at the Community Centre. Please refer to memo issued for participation.
Employees/Staff Supper will be held on February 9, 2016 at 6:00 PM at the Community Centre. For more information please contact Marlene Sam at 819-753-2587 or David Happyjack at 819 753-2600. All Staff are Welcome. Happy New Year!
See the full statement at www.waswanipi.com/en/chief-message.
Christmas Festivities will start on December 18, 2015 and activities.,events and programs will be held all over the community and facilities. For more information please contact the Community Centre Leisure and Sports department at 819-753-2600.