Woodland caribou | Quebec attacks the Innus

(Quebec) The Legault government has criticized “an Innu community” which killed woodland caribou this winter, a way of doing things that “does not help” in the recovery of the threatened species. The outing is called hypocritical by the office of federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault.

Posted at 11:31 a.m.
Updated at 12:36 p.m.

Charles Lecavalier

Charles Lecavalier
The Press

“The CAQ which points the finger instead of taking its responsibilities. A classic,” Mr. Guilbault’s director of parliamentary affairs, Kate Legault-Meek, wrote on social media on Wednesday. She later modified her message, saying that it was “quite hypocritical to see the CAQ pointing the finger, instead of taking responsibility”.

She criticized the exit of the Quebec Minister of Forests, Wildlife and Parks Pierre Dufour, who launched this accusation when he was questioned on the efforts that his government must put in place to restore the population of this emblematic species.

“What we did on our side with the small isolated herds, we decided to make enclosures to protect these animals and give ourselves time to see what actions we are going to take,” he said. launched in the morning. “On the other hand, if you have a community that goes away, under the pretext of its charity, to kill caribou in a threatened and vulnerable herd, they don’t help the situation either. I think we are all balancing on this situation, ”he added.

Mr. Dufour said that there were only 5,250 woodland caribou left in Quebec. “The problem in forestry, we have seen it recently, we have people working to improve preservation, and on the other hand, the other day I had an Aboriginal community in the east of the province which went to destroy close to 10% of a herd that had about 500 woodland caribou,” he lamented.

Last week, his ministry had confirmed to the Montreal Journal that he had opened an investigation into some fifty woodland caribou killed this winter during Innu hunting expeditions. According to the daily, the animals were slaughtered by Innus from Nutashkuan.

The Legault government found itself in a standoff with Ottawa on Tuesday: the federal Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Steven Guilbeault, issued an ultimatum to Quebec: without new measures communicated “by April 20” , he will impose some on his side by decree.

Mr. Dufour is therefore in the process of writing a letter, which will be sent on Thursday, where he will indicate in the appendix all the actions taken by his government since 2018.

“Little Politics”

Senator Michèle Audette, also senior reconciliation advisor at Laval University, denounces the “petty politics” of the Legault government on this subject. She believes that this output of the minister is a distraction not to talk about the ravages of colonialism and the forest industry.

“It’s a distraction to react on social networks. We are thousands of people who no longer eat caribou by choice, we don’t even have access to that anymore. Every year there is a decline. […] Some individuals were not taught how to interact with caribou, I can’t hide it. But to come launcher that in a much larger and more sensitive context, I found that unfortunate. It does not pass for me, ”she denounced.

This is not the first clash between the Legault government and the First Nations on this subject. A few days ago, the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) went out to denounce the fact that the Independent Commission on Woodland and Mountain Caribou does not offer specific consultation for First Nations.

The Innu community of Quebec also said it was “extremely disappointed” that the Legault government did not retain any of the territories it proposed among the future protected areas announced in December 2020, which it considered an affront.

“A way to eat”

Mr. Dufour’s exit did not go unnoticed. Asked about this at the end of question period, the Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs Ian Lafrenière said that he was going to “inquire” about his colleague’s remarks. “I received several messages from my fellow chefs,” he admitted.

He said that the episode of the 50 caribou slaughtered this winter was discussed during a meeting with his federal counterpart, Marc Miller, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations. “We all agreed that this is a complex and sensitive file. For the First Nations, it is a pantry, a way of eating, […] but if we still want to hunt, there must still be a resource,” he said. He hammered that it was a “sensitive and complex” file.

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