Atikamekw community signs relationship framework with Quebec government
December 11, 2023 By Marc Lalonde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
An Atikamekw community in northern Quebec recently signed a relationship framework with the Quebec government in order to manage forestry and other economic activity in and around the community.
The Atikamekw Council of Wemotaci signed its relationship agreement with the Quebec government on Nov. 30, thereby making the ‘The Nahitatowin masinahikan Relationship Framework Agreement between the Quebec government and the Atkiamekw of Wemotaci’ official.
The agreement will regulate forestry activities in and around the community and will provide the framework for collaboration and negotiation when it comes to protection, management and valuation of the ancestral, unceded territory of the Atikamekw of Wemotaci for today and future generations, the Atikamekw Council of Wemotaci chief said.
“It’s a new step that is beginning today and one that will permit us to see the future with a lot more optimism,” said Vivianne Chilton. “This will allow us to better protect the resources on our traditional unceded territory.”
The agreement will create a mixed committee and a regulatory process that will allow for better discussion, negotiation and exchange of ideas between community members, the provincial government and other stakeholders and will kick-start campaign to sensitize forestry leaseholders to the particular needs and desires of the community.
Additionally, it will recognize areas around the community that hold a particular significance to the way of life of the Atikamekw of Wemotaci as well as hold discussions on the plant and animal life that call the community home.
It will also expand the consultation process in terms of sustainable development of the forest, which will oblige forestry leaseholders to accommodate and consult the community when planning activities and give the Atikamekw of Wemotaci more of a voice in the management and development of the territory.
Finally, it will also force the creation of a management plan for the forested areas around the community and will take into account the maintenance and traditional ways of life of the community’s residents.
“This is an important first step for the protection of our territory and will be an essential protection for the continuity, the preservation and conservation of the traditional teachings passed down from our ancestors,” said Atikamekw Council of Wemotaci vice-chief Jon-Evan Quoquochi. “We need to protect these lands for current generations and for the future. The territory we are talking about is a part of us, and we are a part of it. It gives us all we need to survive and live. We have an ancestral responsibility to protect it, and all that lives in it.”
The relationship framework was completed November 2, but was ratified in late November.
Marc Lalonde is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter for Iori:wase.
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