Insulted by the offer as “ridiculous” the government, council head of the Innu of Pessamit, Raphael Picard, decided to launch an international campaign against the Northern Plan. It also leaves the threat of blocking Highway 138 and prevent the rehabilitation of the 389 between Baie-Comeau and Fermont. He claims $ 5 billion in 50 years for his community of 4000 inhabitants. Quebec offers him 14 times less, 350 million.
Mr. Picard has broken off negotiations with Quebec on Friday. The talks were launched on June 12, following a blockade of Highway 138, which connects the North Shore with the rest of the province. They were designed to address several complaints from the community of Pessamit to Quebec.
The Charest government has put on the table 350 million over 50 years, including $ 113 million in compensation for damage caused among others by hydroelectric development. The rest is for the creation of an economic development fund, at 4.5 million per year. The offer provides for other non-financial measures. In return, Pessamit was granted a release and abandon its legal remedies.
However, Chief Picard requires 5 billion in 50 years as compensation and funds for development. At a press conference yesterday, he described at length the “rape” of the traditional territory of the Innu of Pessamit occurred over the past 60 years, with the hydroelectric development, forestry and mining. The natural resources of this vast territory has paid off big, he argues. He estimated, for example Hydro-Quebec has reaped revenues of $ 45 billion through the sale of electricity.
The government’s offer, “it’s just, it’s frivolous, it’s disrespectful,” thundered Mr. Picard. “It’s a shame he comes back again with a colonial attitude [that] he had to show knives, axes, in exchange for bundles of fur. It’s the same thing they want us to pass. They believe us fools. They consider us insane. ”
The chief called Premier Jean Charest of “worst liar of Quebec.” He accuses her of making “false advertising of” affirming that indigenous support the Northern Plan. It will replicate by “a tour of several major U.S. and European cities.” It will argue that Quebec violates the rights of indigenous and Jean Charest, “as under Duplesssis, give the ore to big business.” He looked forward to financial support from environmental groups and indigenous defense.
Raphael Picard also promises “actions that will result in disruption of economic activities on the North Shore.” Groups could block the road 138, for example. Mr. Picard plans to file an injunction to prevent the rehabilitation of Highway 389.
A few hours after the release of the leader, the Minister of Native Affairs, Geoffrey Kelley, convened the press deploring the failure of negotiations. Requests the Chief Picard is “unrealistic,” he decided. The government’s offer is for its “reasonable” and comparable to similar arrangements entered into in Quebec and other provinces. It could be increased if the Pessamit community agrees to enter into Quebec with a comprehensive treaty on aboriginal rights, he said.
Jean Charest met with Chief Picard three times since June 12, while negotiating sessions were held every two weeks. “We acted in good faith,” said Kelley. Asked about threats to blockade roads, the Minister replied that the Innu should rather go to court if they are dissatisfied with the negotiations. Sunday, in a statement, he questioned “whether the decision of Chief Picard reflects the position of all members of its community.” The remark has boosted Mr. Picard, who accused the minister of “interfering in the governance” of the community.
Of the 33 indigenous communities living in the territory of the Northern Plan, 26 supporting the project, said Geoffrey Kelley. This is the case of the Cree communities, who signed a comprehensive treaty with Quebec. Five Innu communities oppose the Northern Plan, while two agree.
Google translate was used to translate this article from French into English. See the original text here.