NEMASKA, QUEBEC: The James Bay Cree Nation welcomes the Government of Quebec’s decision to impose a moratorium on uranium exploration and mining activities in Eeyou Istchee and in Quebec. However, the Cree Nation calls on the Government of Quebec to ensure that the Commission concerning the uranium industry in Quebec properly respects Cree rights and the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA).
Quebec Environment Minister Yves-François Blanchet announced today that the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE) is to conduct province-wide public hearings regarding the uranium sector in Quebec. Minister Blanchet confirmed that while the BAPE uranium process is underway, no authorizations for uranium exploration or mining projects will be granted, and the proposed Matoush advanced exploration project will not be permitted to proceed.
“An independent and broad study of the uranium industry is urgently required,” Deputy Grand Chief Ashley Iserhoff stated. “It is also good that Quebec has halted all uranium exploration and mining activities while this process is on-going. However, we unfortunately cannot support the process as it is currently planned.”
“Without the prior consent of the Crees, the BAPE mechanism chosen by the Government of Quebec violates the JBNQA treaty of 1975 to which the government of Quebec is a party, and fails to respect the special status of the Cree Nation in Eeyou Istchee,” said Grand Chief Dr. Matthew Coon Come. “We are confident that through nation-to-nation discussions, we will reach an agreement with Quebec. We call on Quebec to work with the Grand Council of the Crees to ensure that this important process can proceed in Eeyou Istchee on a cooperative and respectful basis.”
Located near the Cree community of Mistissini, the Matoush project is the most advanced uranium project to date in the Cree territory of Eeyou Istchee and in Quebec. “We commend the Government for its decision to stop the Matoush project,” said Mistissini Chief Richard Shecapio. “Mistissini’s position is clear: there will be no uranium activities in our territory. We will continue working with the hundreds of municipalities and civil society groups that oppose uranium in Quebec.”
“The risks that come with uranium exploration, uranium exploitation and uranium waste are issues of major concern to the Cree Nation”, said Grand Chief Dr. Matthew Coon Come. “As a basic matter of human rights, our consent is required for all projects that might seriously impact our environment, economies and way of life.”
“Our people supports environmentally and socially sustainable and equitable development in our territory, including mining,” Grand Chief Coon Come noted. “But uranium burdens all future generations in a way that we are not willing to assume. We are confident that when Quebecers consider the true facts about uranium mining and waste, they will join us in our permanent moratorium stand.”
The Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) is the political entity that represents the James Bay Cree people. The Cree Nation of Mistissini is one of the larger communities within the James Bay Cree Nation, and is located at the southeast end of Mistassini Lake.