Wood cuts adopted in earth atikamekw
The superior Court judge that the ministry of Forests has failed in its duty to consult with the Atikamekw before allowing the harvest of 200 000 m3 of timber on their ancestral territory.
Anne Caroline Desplanques
Wednesday, 23 August 2017 11:19
Wednesday, 23 August 2017 20:07
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A judge on Wednesday ordered a complete shutdown of logging operations on the atikamekw territory, as the ministry of Forestry has permitted the cuts without consulting the First Nation.
“It is a very great victory and a very big relief,” said the chief, Christian Awashish, very moved to get out of the courtroom.
Judge Thomas Davis ruled that the forest operations that threaten the very culture of the First Nation. They include the harvest of 200 000 m3 of wood, or the equivalent of 53 olympic-sized swimming pools full, in one of the last mature forest of the community of Opitciwan.
The family Weizineau, that holds aboriginal title to the territory in question, was opposed for years to the cuts. But, without consulting them, the ministry of Forestry has authorized a “special operation” in their backyard last month.
For judge Davis, the Department has failed in its duty of consultation. It has, therefore, suspended the cuts until September 15, and ordered the parties to proceed to a consultation.
“You all have interest to work quickly,” insisted the magistrate. He addressed his message specifically to the Ministry and to the chief, atikamekw, because the duty of consultation does not return to the company, the Group Rémabec (Arbec and rebec to give birth).
In addition to having to consult with the community, the Department could face compensation claims of the company and of the Atikamekw.
The chief Awashish told the Newspaper that it is considering an action for damages. Réjean Paré, president and chief operating officer of Rémabec, indicates that it might sue the State ” for the losses incurred “.
“There are a hundred families who will not be paid if they [forest workers] do not go out in the woods “, argued the lawyer of the company Me Yves Robillard at judge Davis.
Daniel Benghozi, who is defending the State in that folder, told the Newspaper that a financial compensation “is not ruled out” for Rémabec.
“It is certain that they will have the opportunity to harvest volumes of wood that are granted on the guarantee of supply. You will find wood elsewhere, ” has assured Me Benghozi.
Judge Davis stated in her judgment that the harm was greatest for the First Nation and the company.