In April of earlier this year, First Nations communities came from all over Canada to oppose an 80 billion dollar Hydro Quebec project called Plan Nord. A demonstration was held outside a convention center where inside hundreds of businesses had set up kiosks for the second day in a row.
With a heavy police presence but no violence, the protest was declared illegal with 90 people were arrested for protesting. The 90 arrests at the non-violent protest over the 25 year project, serves as a stark comparison to a student protest that erupted in violence a day earlier which ended in 17 arrests.
The Romaine River hydro project which was OK’d by BAPE (Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement) in March failed to have any input from surrounding communities.
Today, First Nations groups from across Quebec to ask that the projects which destroy many communities and rivers cease construction. The Alliance Romaine group is asking for a retraction of a $59 million dollar contract that was signed by Hydro-Quebec with the construction company Louisberg SBC, with very little consultation with community members or assessment. The group is asking for a report on the social, financial and environmental impact as well as protection of streams such as Magpie river.
Many aboriginal groups have been vocal in their opposition the 80 billion dollar project and have expressed how it negatively affects their cultures and traditions, as well as protecting the fragile arctic ecosystem.
“We know that the North is a very fragile ecosystem and up to this day, it’s still being destroyed. And if we go along with the Plan Nord, it will be the end of the north here,” said Stephane Roy of the Onkwehshon traditional council.
“It’s a matter of not only is it destructive to the land, but it’s against the so-called human rights policies that Canada is so proud of,” said Stuart Myiow of the Mohawk Traditional Council of Kahnawake
With the project already started, Myiow has seen how the construction of the project is beginning destroying his land and his community.