October 5, 2022

The Queens County Citizen

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Caribou Protection | Pessamit’s innu put Ottawa and Quebec on official notice

Caribou Protection |  Pessamit's innu put Ottawa and Quebec on official notice

Innes of Pessamit asked the federal and Quebec governments to take action to protect the woodland caribou by early September or face court.

Posted at 5:00 am

Jean-Thomas Leville

Jean-Thomas Leville

The First Nation on the North Shore sent official notices to both levels of government this week through a bailiff.

The Pessamit Band Council is thus increasing pressure on Ottawa, which has been studying for several months the possibility of intervening by decree to impose Quebec’s late-enforcement measures.

“Given the urgency of the situation and the inadequacy of the measures taken to date, the Council hereby calls on the Government of Canada to put concrete and swift measures in place to protect the species and habitat of the caribou”, the official notice mentioned. to Ottawa, of which Press Got a copy.

The six-page letter, delivered earlier this week to federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbelt, has also been sent to Indigenous Services, Patty Hajdu and Crown-Indigenous Relations Ministers Mark Miller.

That gives them 20 working days to act, a Sept. 8 deadline in the middle of Quebec’s election campaign.

A similar letter was sent to the Legault government asking for action, as the Innu Council of Pessamit had threatened to do in May.

A proven strategy

In their letter to Ottawa, Pessamit’s Innus demanded the passage of a decree Species at Risk ActA successful strategy in other files in the past.

Minister Steven Guilbelt passed an emergency decree last November to protect the chorus frog in Longueuil, after two environmental protection organizations took legal action to force it to do so.

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“Every time someone would go to the court to get an interim order [pour la protection d’espèces en péril]It worked,” said Confidence Press A source in the federal government was not authorized to speak publicly about the case.

Ottawa was led to carry out threats of short-term intervention, explains this source.

“We have no choice. [sinon] Courts tell us [le faire] “, she said.


Innus of Pessamit’s approach reflects the community’s anguish as it watches the caribou die. Press Jérôme Bacon Saint-Onge, outgoing Vice-Chief – Elections will be held on August 17 to renew the Band Council.

“We’re at the end of it,” he said. Until recently, we wondered: “What would it take to move them?” »

Photo by David Boily, Law Press Archives

Jerome Bacon Saint-Onge, outgoing Vice-Chief of Pessamit

He hopes that formal notices will bear fruit and there will be no need to go to court for protection.AtikaMost important in Innu culture is “caribou” in the Innu language.

Legal recourse is always avoidable.

Jerome Bacon Saint-Onge, Outgoing Vice-Chief of the Innu Council of Pessamit

An official notice issued by the Innu of Pessamit in Ottawa emphasizes in broad strokes the responsibility of governments to respect the ancestral rights of Aboriginal peoples, including their practices and customs.

Alain Branchaud, director general of the Quebec-based Society for Nature and Parks (SNAP), said it was a “strategic policy” that “not protecting caribou is against governments’ constitutional obligations.”

SNAP supports the Innu of Pessamit in their protected area project aimed at preventing the disappearance of the Pipmuacan caribou herd.

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The scientific consensus on the steps to take to save the caribou was clear, recalls Alain Branchaud.

“All the information is in hand for Environment Canada’s minister to make a decision and recommend to the governor in council to issue an order in council,” he said.

Federal law requires Ottawa to take the necessary steps to protect endangered species if the provinces fail to meet their obligations in this regard. Press Caitlin Power, Press Secretary to Minister Guilbelt.

“If Quebec really wants to work on caribou rehabilitation and protection the door is open to negotiations,” she added.

The office of Quebec Forestry, Wildlife and Parks Minister Pierre Dufour said Press He would not comment Thursday evening.

Learn more

  • 5252
    Population estimation of woodland caribou in Quebec

    Source: Independent Commission on Woodland and Mountain Caribou