Today, about 90 per cent of the forest in Waswanipi’s traplines has been logged, and the community is making a last stand to preserve the untouched portion, which includes the Broadback Valley. 16-21, nine journalists and nine Greenpeace campaigners travelled about 800 kilometres north from Montreal to the town of Waswanipi, then about 200 kilometres further north into Waswanipi territory to Quénonisca Falls, a narrowing of the Broadback River.
Greenpeace, which the Cree have enlisted in their efforts to save the Broadback Valley, helped organize the trip.
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James O’Reilly, a wily Montreal lawyer who has represented the Cree for over 40 years, had told Saganash that the July agreement left a door open to save the Broadback Valley. Waswanipi has established a task force to negotiate with the Cree Grand Council and the province.
Saganash was miffed that Coon Come had not consulted Waswanipi beforehand on the new deal, and was upset that the 9,134-square-kilometre protected area did not include the Waswanipi section of the Broadback Valley. Quebec’s top civil servant, secretary-general of the executive council Juan Roberto Iglesias, has named a Montreal expert as Quebec negotiator, and the two sides have agreed to a December deadline to redefine the protected area.
That’s what really got to me.” Mandy Gull, deputy-chief of the Waswanipi Cree First Nation, stands in an area that has been clear-cut.Gull described such areas on their traditional territory as being like “a scarred lung that would never heal.” On July 13, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard and Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come, representing Quebec’s 18,000 Cree, signed a new agreement on co-management of forestry and protection of the woodland caribou.