La Vérendrye Wildlife Reserve: the Algonquins of Kitigan Zibi forced to raise their dams

Judge Marie-Josée Bédard, of the Superior Court, favorably received the request for a provisional injunction filed by the Association de chasse et pêche de la région de Mont-Laurier, which manages the ZEC Petawaga, in the southwestern part of the Reserve.

However, Judge Bédard rejected the same request for the other communities, Lac-Simon, Kitcisakik and Lac-Barrière. In her decision, the judge indicates that the territory of the ZEC Petawaga, which is the subject of this dispute, does not affect these communities.

The Lépine-Clova road

The heart of the dispute concerned the Lépine-Clova road, which leads to the ZEC. The Algonquins told the court that these were not roadblocks, but checkpoints, which they said was an important nuance.

ZEC officials say it took the hunters a five-hour detour to get out of the hunting area because of the roadblocks. They argue that this tactic by the Aboriginals is intended to discourage hunters from going to the ZEC to practice their activity.

The Algonquins claim for their part that the detour is only two hours, passing through Ferme-Neuve.

In her 15-page judgment, Judge Bédard is sympathetic to the Anishinabeg cause, but she considers that the means used to have their demands heard are illegal.

“It is quite legitimate for the representatives of the indigenous communities to want to maintain a balance of power during their negotiations with the Ministry and to want to express their disagreement with the decision of the Ministry not to impose a moratorium on sport hunting? to demonstrate and express oneself freely does not, however, imply the right to carry out illegal acts by blocking public roads and obstructing access to territory which belongs to the community, ”writes the judge.

Contradictions

Justice Bédard points out a contradiction between the Algonquin’s intention and the actions taken.

“The Tribunal understands that the defendant communities do not wish to take legal action on their claims and their disagreement with the Ministry, but by choosing illegal gestures to assert their point of view and maintain pressure on the Minister, they themselves put the table to a judicialization of the situation which moreover causes prejudice to third parties who are not involved in the negotiations ”, we can read in the judgment.

In addition, the judge considers that proof has not yet been made at this stage that sport hunting contributes to the decline of the moose population in the area, as the Algonquins claim.

The provisional injunction obtained by the officials of the ZEC Petawaga opens the door to police intervention in the sector: the decision of Judge Marie-Josée Bédard indicates that in the event of non-compliance with the injunction, those they have the possibility of appealing to the police to enforce this injunction.

The Minister of Forests, Wildlife and Parks, Pierre Dufour, mentioned this possibility last week, during an interview on Radio-Canada. However, he played down the impact of this statement by indicating that the door was still open for negotiation.

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