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Grand Council of the Crees and Québec sign agreement to resolve forestry dispute

July 14, 2015 - The Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)/Cree Nation Government is pleased to announce the signature with the Government of Québec today of the agreement to Resolve the Baril-Moses Forestry Dispute.

This agreement resolves a dispute and legal proceedings between the Cree Nation and the Government of Québec regarding the application of the "Baril-Moses" forestry standards. It provides for the implementation of these standards in the affected territory until June 30, 2020. For the period after July 1, 2020, Québec and the Cree will work together on possible improvements of these standards. 

The agreement establishes the Broadback River Protected Area as a biodiversity reserve with an area of 9,134 square kilometres. This measure will help to protect environmentally sensitive areas, including woodland caribou habitats. A joint Cree-Québec task force will work to identify possible additional protected areas in the JBNQA Territory. The agreement also commits Québec to work with stakeholders, including the Cree, for the recovery of woodland caribou. The agreement provides for the participation of the Innu of Mashteuiatsh in the processes regarding forestry standards and woodland caribou if they notify the Cree and Québec of their wish to do so.

The Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)/Cree Nation Government undertakes not to oppose the environmental authorization of certain forestry access roads, subject to certain conditions, including the independence of the environmental assessment bodies, Cree individuals and Cree entities. Québec undertakes to provide funding to support Cree traditional activities and the implementation of the Collaborative Forestry Management Regime mentioned in the Cree‑Québec Governance Agreement of July 2012. Finally, the Cree undertake to discontinue the legal proceedings taken against Québec and certain forestry companies.

Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come stated, "This Agreement secures the harmonization of forestry operations with Cree hunting, fishing and trapping activities in the Baril-Moses area. It provides a process for the Cree and Québec to work together on forestry measures to ensure this harmonization over the long term. It also provides for the participation of the Innu of Mashteuiatsh in this process if they wish to do so."

The Grand Chief continued, "The Cree advocate a model of co-management with Québec and the Innu of Mashteuiatsh regarding forestry standards and woodland caribou protection. We remain committed to this model, and we welcome the opportunity to work with the Innu of Mashteuiatsh and Québec to address these important issues."

The Grand Chief went on, "I am pleased that Premier Couillard and his Government have recognized the importance of working with the Cree on a Nation-to-Nation basis to resolve this challenging file. I wish to thank the Premier for his leadership in ensuring the successful conclusion of these negotiations. With this Agreement, we have put in place measures to promote the long-term harmonization of forestry operations with Aboriginal hunting, fishing and trapping. In doing so, we have laid the groundwork for a system of collaborative management in sustainable development for the benefit of all."

Source: Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)