PREMIER ANNOUNCES CREATION OF ASSINICA NATIONAL PARK RESERVE
Oujé-Bougoumou, May 17, 2011 – Québec Premier Jean Charest, accompanied by Minister of Sustainable Development, the Environment and Parks Pierre Arcand and Minister responsible for Native Affairs Geoffrey Kelley, today announced the reaching of an agreement with the Cree Nation formalizing the creation of a new protected area—the Assinica national park reserve. This agreement allows a territory of 3193 km2 located approximately 20 km north of the Cree village of Oujé-Bougoumou to be protected from any and all industrial activity.
“The Plan Nord is based on the three cornerstones of sustainable development: economic prosperity, community development and environmental protection. Assinica national park will ensure the sustainability of natural and cultural resources, while making the Cree Nation a key player in its development”, stated Premier Charest.
“This announcement today is one more important step which demonstrates, in very tangible ways, the extraordinary potential of the new partnership and the new relationship between the Cree Nation and the Government and the people of Quebec when we decide to work together. It is an eloquent expression of what can happen when there is acknowledgement of rights and inclusion of our people and communities. It also demonstrates the ability on the part of genuine partners to find creative ways of accommodating the needs and concerns of the multiple users of the park area”, said Grand Chief Dr. Matthew Coon-Come.
“Assinica national park will be one of the largest in Québec’s park network. It will contribute directly to achieving our target objective of reserving 50% of Plan Nord territory for non-industrial purposes—environmental protection and biodiversity conservation. In so doing, we are protecting vast tracts of boreal forest and many lakes and rivers. This sustainable development approach, focussing on conservation and environmental protection, bears witness to our commitment to address the needs, choices and challenges of the 21st century”, added Minister Arcand.
“The Assinica national park reserve is excellent news for the Cree community of Oujé-Bougoumou. In addition to safeguarding sites of natural and cultural interest for the Crees, it will contribute to social, economic and tourism development, while offering new prospects for the future to this community’s youth”, Minister Kelley noted.
“From the outset, our intentions in our negotiations on the Assinica area were first and foremost to protect our lands and resources for the benefit of our hunters and for the benefit of the future generations of our people”, Chief Louise Wapachee emphasized.
The agreement leading to the creation of the Assinica national park reserve stipulates that the management of the future national park’s operations, activities and services be entrusted to the Oujé-Bougoumou Crees through discussions defining specific management and operating terms and conditions. It also provides for discussions related to a future expansion of the Assinica national park.
Assinica national park reserve lands are home to various plant and wildlife species, including the woodland caribou and bald eagle, both of which have been designated vulnerable in Québec. Numerous archeological sites have been found in the territory, especially around the largest lakes and main rivers, which the Aboriginal nations have used for travel for centuries. These bodies of water cover more than one-fifth of the territory, which also contains many wetlands, including several peat bogs.
- 30 -