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Cree Opposition to Rupert River Diversion Project in Northern Quebec

by admin ~ December 17th, 2006

Three James Bay Cree communities most affected by the Eastmain 1A-Rupert Diversion have voted to oppose the project. The diversion of the historic and free-flowing Rupert River, one of the largest rivers in Quebec, will impact 165 lakes, five rivers, and flood over 1,000 square kilometers of old growth boreal forest in the James Bay region of northern Quebec. A 2002 agreement (called “Paix des Braves”) between the Government of Quebec and the Grand Council of the Cree (Eeyou Istchee) set the conditions for approval of the project: including a public review process, environmental assessment, and approval by local Cree communities. Since that time, a new Grand Chief has been elected to the Grand Council, Matthew Mukash, who opposes the project, and three referenda in Waskaganish, Chisasibi and Nemaska have voted down the proposal by an overwhelming majority. The project seems embroiled in controversy as the Government of Quebec recently issued its certificate of authorization for construction of the Diversion on November 29, despite Cree opposition to the project and delayed completion of the environmental assessment study (the COMEX report). Several groups are planning protests in solidarity with the Cree and in defense of the river, including a canoe trip by two members of Rupert Reverence on Dec 07, who will deliver a petition signed by 6,000 people to the National Assembly of the Parliament of Quebec. Further information can be obtained on this issue below, including a book chapter by Harvey Feit on the enduring relationships of the Cree with the land, cultural identity, state institutions, and negotiation of Hydro-electric projects on northern James Bay rivers.


2 Responses to Cree Opposition to Rupert River Diversion Project in Northern Quebec

  1. steve king

    hi. we’re doing a film on the rupert this summer. have run it many times. saddened and angered but excited to see it again for the last time. will you add my blog to your list on the right? thanx, steve king,

  2. admin

    Hi Steve. It sounds like a great project, and I wish you speedy success in fund raising, and getting the film through post production and to market on this vital issue. We know of viable alternatives (like wind generation) for local markets and the importance of conservation as a way to make efficient use of our renewable energy resources. Hydro Quebec seems set on cheap energy for export, and for many people the impacts of James Bay Hydro developments are out of sight and out of mind. Film seems like the perfect medium to close the gap, and provide a better sense of Cree struggles for recognition and sovereignty, and the relationships that are involved in a cascade of effects when we turn on the light, communicate with each other via the web (as I do now), or any other use of electricity. The days of taking cheap energy for granted may be numbered ? we have to all get a little smarter about our energy use.