Will Québec “forget” a gem in its largest national park? First test for a “sustainable” Plan Nord

CPAWS (Quebec) – Ever heard of the Tursujuq national park project? Located east of Hudson Bay in Nunavik, it is set to become no less than the largest national park in Québec, following the upcoming official announcement by the Charest government. Only then will the final park boundaries be known, and at the same time, the fate of the majestic Nastapoka River. In preliminary studies, the Nastapoka River was considered to be a crucial element for integration into the future park – as much by scientists as by the Inuit and Cree communities involved in the process. Indeed, the river boasts several characteristics that make it an irreplaceable jewel of Québec’s natural heritage. Of note is the presence of the only salmon population in eastern Hudson Bay, a population of endangered beluga whales in the estuary, and at the source of the river, Seal Lake – home to an endangered population of freshwater seals, one of the very few such populations on the planet. Despite these attributes, and the nearly unanimous support from stakeholders to include the Nastapoka River in the national park, to date there are no indications that the river will be protected. A wild river in Northern Québec with hydroelectric potential… easy enough to guess who is opposed to its protection.

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