A group of protesters from the Nutashkuan Innu community have maintained a blockade since Wednesday, at the entrance by the La Romaine construction site, near Havre-Saint-Pierre Quebec, preventing vehicles from entering.
The gigantic Hydro-Québec project is now completely paralyzed by barricades erected by two Innu communities of the North Shore.
“It’s a total blockade. All emergency services may enter and who may want to get out, but there’s nothing coming in, “says the Journal Joel Malec, lumberman Innu and spokesman of the protesters.
The Innu protest is against Hydro-Québec and the government that they believe violate their rights and endanger the environment.
The community accused Hydro-Quebec of not respecting the agreement signed in 2008, in line with their territorial rights. “Hydro-Québec decided to drown 50% of the tree population in the Romaine project basins and us, we are against that. It’s going to cause mercury to future generations ” denounced Chief Rodrigues Wapistan, in an interview with the Journal.
The community says its economic autonomy is also threatened, while jobs were to be granted within the community to deforestation and thus contribute. “We want to get out of our misery and provide a better future for our children and grandchildren. But how, when our land and our resources are destroyed? And our rights are constantly ignored? “Said the leader in a statement issued later Wednesday.
“By flooding our territories without our consent, Hydro-Québec has not only harmed our aboriginal rights, but it has also undermined our economic and social development in addition to endangering the ecosystem,” says Chief Wapistan.
The Oka spectrum
At odds with the government and Hydro-Quebec on this issue for months, the Innu did not randomly choose to act yesterday, it was for the 25th anniversary of the Oka crisis.
The Mohawk uprising that was also declared on the basis of ancestral land claims.
As the Mohawks before them, the Innu warn that if they do not get satisfaction, they will intensify their means of action.
The Premier of Québec, Philippe Couillard, pressed the Nutashkuan community to give priority to negotiation than confrontation, which is doomed to failure. “One must choose in life. We choose the path of negotiation or the path of confrontation is chosen. The negotiation may succeed, that confrontation will not succeed “ , he has said on the sidelines of the Council of the Federation on Thursday afternoon.
The Minister responsible for Native Affairs, Geoffrey Kelley, had asked earlier in the day Chief Wapistan to lift the barricade blocking access to the mega construction site. He called on the leader of the Innu community to “return to the table [of negotiations]. ” Nobody wants to relive the Oka crisis he stressed during a press conference.