Cree youth walkers against uranium mining arrive in Montreal after 850 km walk

Cree marchers against uranium arrived in Montreal on Monday morning after an 850 trek.

Cree marchers against uranium arrived in Montreal on Monday morning after an 850 trek. Photo: by Aaron Lakoff, CKUT

By Black Powder | Red Power Media

A group of Cree youth walkers have reached their final destination after completing an 850-km march to protest against uranium exploration and mining in Quebec.

The walkers arrived in downtown Montreal on Monday to deliver a message to the province’s environmental protection agency, known as (BAPE), the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement .

To bring public awareness and to garner support, the youth from the Cree Nation embarked on the Stand Against Uranium Walk on Nov. 24th.

This stand has been totally initiated by the youth in the community of Mistissini, in northern Quebec where the anti-uranium fight started.

Youth Grand Chief Joshua Iserhoff said those they met along the way overwhelmingly supported a ban on uranium mining.

Photos from the ongoing #standagainsturanium solidarity march from Mistissini to Montreal

Photos from the ongoing #standagainsturanium solidarity march from Mistissini to Montreal

They’ve been hitting some of the towns that are affected by uranium mining to broaden their base of support. Iserhoff said they’ve met with positive feedback on their journey and, “none of us have heard anything negative,” he said.

“Some people understand the effects of uranium, but there’s such a large number who just aren’t aware of this project. We’re the ones taking the initiative to be ambassadors to Quebec, Canada and the world.”

The Cree Stand has sparked rallies in other provinces and people are talking to their MPs and, “we have people following us on Twitter,” he said. “We’re protecting the land for future generations, not just for the Cree people or Aboriginal people, but for everybody.”

About 20 people made the full journey, walking an average of about 30 km a day over a three-weeks period, often in frigid temperatures.

Cree youth marchers assemble outside Papineau metro. Photo: by Aaron Lakoff, CKUT

Cree youth marchers assemble outside Papineau metro. Photo: by Aaron Lakoff, CKUT

In Montreal, they marched from Papineau metro to the BAPE hearings at a hotel downtown to deliver their message. They were joined by over 100 other Montrealers and Indigenous people from other nations.

The hearing by (BAPE) on uranium mining wrapped up the same day, with a final report expected next May.

Uranium extraction has been on the table in Mistissini since 2006. A Boucherville-based company, Strateco Resources, has invested $120 million into developing a uranium mine in Mistissini in the last ten years.

The project was once seen as a key part of former premier Jean Charest’s Plan Nord, a multi-billion dollar attempt to develop the province’s north.

But the Mistissini project was put on hold in 2013 after the then-governing Parti Québecois introduced a moratorium on uranium mining and exploration in Quebec.

Last week, Strateco Resources filed a $190-million lawsuit against the province, asking for compensation for the investments made before the province blocked the project last year.

Amy Linton (far right) is the Cree Youth Chief of Mistissini. She was marching for her son (to her left in the blue jacket)

Amy Linton (far right) is the Cree Youth Chief of Mistissini. She was marching for her son (to her left in the blue jacket) Photo: by Aaron Lakoff, CKUT

Matthew Coon Come, the Grand Chief of the James Bay Cree Nation, said he supports the protesters and believes uranium mining would be devastating to the environment.

“We want Quebecers to stand with us,” he said. “Let’s all say no to uranium.”

The youth have developed a website to continue the awareness. Check out www.standagainsturanium.com for more information about their initiatives.

The 23-day path of the marchers from Mistassini to Montreal. Source: standagainsturanium.com

The 23-day path of the marchers from Mistassini to Montreal. Source: standagainsturanium.com