The Innu reveal their expectations of the next government | Elections Quebec 2022

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The Innu reveal their expectations of the next government | ÉQuebec 2022 elections

Jérôme Bacon-St-Onge has taken the issue of protecting caribou and their territory in the Innu community to heart of Pessamit.

Protection of the caribou and its territory, more consultations and more autonomy of governance: the expectations of the various Aboriginal communities of the North Shore towards the next government who will be elected on October 3 are numerous.

The Vice-Chief of the Innu Council of Pessamit, Jérôme Bacon-St-Onge, has taken the issue of protecting caribou and their territory to heart in his community.

Last August, Pessamit put Quebec and Ottawa on notice so that immediate measures could be put in place to protect the species. Since then, Jérôme Bacon-St-Onge says he had a meeting with the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Steven Guilbault. For its part, Quebec has still not given any sign of life. The government had until September 8 to respond, said the vice-chief.

“Which is deplorable for us because every day there is massive deforestation in our territories. »

— Jérôme Bacon-St-Onge, Vice-Chief of the Innu Council of Pessamit

Mr. Bacon St-Onge hopes to obtain a response and concrete actions from the new government that will be elected. Because, for the moment, he fears that the report of the Independent Commission on Woodland and Mountain Caribou, made public last August, will be shelved and forgotten.

There is no Ministry of Forests Wildlife and Parks announcement that has been executed. There is no press conference to announce with great fanfare that we finally have a working tool, he laments.

On the Lower North Shore, the Chief of the Innu Council of Unamen Shipu, Brian Mark, says he is disappointed to have learned from the media that the Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ) wants to create new hydroelectric dams and is concerned about the future of the Petit Mécatina River.

The leader of the Innu community of Unamen Shipu, Bryan Mark (archives)

He wants the communities to be consulted upstream even before there are announcements.

Yes, it's an announcement that was very vague, it spoke only dams on rivers, but everyone knows it, we will not hide it [the various actors involved] are starting to discuss it too, defends Brian Mark.

In addition, the head of the CAQ François Legault hinted Friday that he plans to improve the Romaine complex. However, no concrete project or specific location have been announced.

For his part, the head of the Innu Council of Ekuanitshit, Jean-Charles Piétacho, categorically refuses that the Magpie River will also be affected by any dam project.

The community has also revealed its expectations: more housing, more health services as well as a recognition of systemic racism, among others.

But the hope of seeing things change remains slim, according to the leader.

“My message to the parties is: change your rhetoric or do something else, or we'll see each other again in four years, and we won't have solved anything. . »

— Jean-Charles Piétacho, Chief of the Innu Council of Ekuanitshit

Jean-Charles Piétacho, Chief of the Ekuanitshit community (archives)

There is a clear consensus in the Innu community: Indigenous issues are well documented in Quebec. However, halfway through the election campaign, the leaders of these communities feel that they are given very little prominence in the commitments of each of the parties.

Representatives of political parties will however have the opportunity to speak on Indigenous issues next Monday, during a debate organized by the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (ANPQL) .

The Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador, Ghislain Picard (archives )

The Chief of the AFNQL, Ghislain Picard, for his part, wants more autonomy of governance for the various communities. That is to say to be able to manage their responsibilities, their community, their territory in the same way as any other government, he explains.

Mr. Picard also hopes for better relations with the next government.

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