The provincial government has green-lit a logging project it hopes can strike a balance between appeasing the needs of industry and respecting the territorial rights of the Waswanipi Cree.
Last week, the Liberal government authorized the construction of two logging roads that cut deep into Cree territory but imposed a number of environmental safeguards on them. The Waswanipi band council says it’s satisfied with the outcome and willing to work alongside sawmill operator Matériaux Blanchet to mitigate the environmental harm caused by their roads.
But will these measures be enough to help ensure the survival of Quebec’s rapidly declining woodland caribou herds, whose habitat would be transformed by the project?
“If you want to gauge the health of the boreal forest, look at how the caribou are doing,” said Pier-Olivier Boudreault, a project director with Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), a charitable organization. “In a sense, woodland caribou are the canary in the coal mine. Right now they’re not doing great.