The Call to Protect One of the Last Untouched Stretches of the Boreal Forest

The Cree First Nation of Waswanipi speak out on how Canada logging companies could devastate their ancestral heartland and decimate homes of imperiled wildlife.

The following is a transcript of the video.

My name is Mandy Gull.

I'm from the Cree First Nation of Waswanipi. We are the Cree of Eeyou Istchee in Northern Quebec.

Eeyou means “Cree,” and Istchee means “land.” These two words, they go hand‑in‑hand. You cannot be Eeyou without Istchee.

A lot of people don't realize that the Cree people are subsistence hunters. We do hunt and trap daily.

The Broadback is basically our last intact forest.

All of the traditional and cultural activities that we practice out there on the land, that's who we are. That's us.

Our culture is out there on the Broadback. Our identity is out there on the Broadback. That's why it's so special and so crucial to protect.

What we're ultimately trying to achieve is a large intact old‑growth forest that's protected, that has limited access, that is not impacted by forestry or logging practices.

We're here because we want to ask the logging industry to accommodate and cooperate in how they conduct harvesting practices.

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We're looking to come together and really see how we can collaborate and obtain protection of this important valley. We believe that the key is really the support of the Quebec government.

We're guaranteed rights to hunt, fish, trap, and harvest within the traditional territories of the community, so we're really working to protect this. When we see these large spaces that are clear-cuts, vast open areas, we often consider them to be dead zones. There's no wildlife in these areas. The vegetation doesn't grow back.

A trapline system is a hunting territory. The trapline system of Waswanipi is heavily impacted by forestry roads. We have 33,000 kilometers spanning through the territory. Recently, we see companies coming into more northern areas, and they're planning on building roads in areas that are left untouched.

Ninety percent of our traplines were clear‑cut. This is the last 10 percent that we have, and we want to preserve that for the next generations to come.

When we come up here, we hunt moose. We come for sturgeon, and we come for walleye.

Up here, all the wildlife hasn't been impacted, and the rivers haven't been impacted. There's no sediments that go into the rivers.

So when we're talking about the last intact forest, we're talking about trees that are hundreds of years old. It's a forest that has never been logged. That's why it's so important for the Crees to be stewards of the land, to be the protectors for the Broadback forest.

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