The Québec government will achieve by the end of 2020 its objective of protecting 20% of Nunavik
|Nunavik, December 11, 2020 – In the wake of extensive collaboration between the Québec government, the Kativik Regional Government, the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach, Makivik Corporation, and the Cree Nation Government, the Québec government has designated eight new territories reserved for the purposes of a protected area and authorized the expansion of two existing reserves in Nunavik, thus achieving the objective of protecting 20% of Nunavik by 2020 and significantly enhancing its network of protected areas.
Eight new sectors will be designated territories for the purposes of a protected area: Rivière-Innuksuac, Rivière-Arnaud, Tursujuq-Nord, Tursujuq-Centre, Tursujuq-Sud, Canyon-Eaton, Marais-Maritime, and Rivière-George-Nord. The boundaries of the existing Rivière-Marralik and Rivière-George reserves will be expanded. In addition to the new designations, a specific conservation agreement covering the Lac Cambrien and Lac Nachicapau sectors has been implemented to find alternatives to hydroelectric power development there and establish a government reserve in the Lac Nachicapau sector.
To date, the territory of Nunavik has just over 14% protected areas. The new designations represent a total area of 29 785 km2 and bring to just over 20% the protected portion of Nunavik. By the same token, the announcement will add 2% to the Québec network of protected areas, raising the total from 10.7% to 12.7%. The Québec government is on course to attain the 17% target by the end of 2020.
In addition to helping to preserve biodiversity, the announcement reflects outstanding Nation-to-Nation consensus building and collaboration. The protected area planning approach in Nunavik is a tremendous success that hinges on significant human relations, bearing in mind the cultural and social dimensions of the parties concerned. It responds to the wishes of Nunavik communities, which had expressed their desire to protect the environment, preserve fauna and flora, and preserve the cultural heritage and existing modes of land occupancy in the territories covered. Consequently, the establishment of the protected areas will safeguard the territories and the special ties that the nations of Nunavik maintain with them.
In keeping with their designation, no form of industrial activity can take place on the entire array of territories covered. The administrative and legal provisions necessary to prohibit all natural resource exploration and exploitation activities (mining, energy, and forests) are now applied to this territory. Steps will be taken in the coming years to ensure that the territories obtain legally protected status.
“With these designations, we are confirming our commitment to protect the environment and preserve biodiversity, both among our immediate partners and the world over. This approach seeks, above all, the conservation of natural environments in Nunavik and the attendant cultural values. It stems from collaboration and consensus building between the Québec government, the Kativik Regional Government, Makivik Corporation, the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach, and the Cree Nation Government. Together, we are thus contributing today to enhanced connectivity between the existing protected areas in Nunavik and are bolstering the ability to adapt of northern ecosystems against a backdrop of climate change.”
Benoit Charette, Minister of the Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change and Minister Responsible for the Laval Region
“I am indeed proud of the progress that we have made together to protect biodiversity and traditional Aboriginal modes of land occupancy and to develop our Nation-to-Nation relationship. Today marks a significant step in this respect. However, I am aware that much remains to be done to consolidate our Nation-to-Nation relationship and to adequately protect the territory. For example, the Naskapi sector in Nunavik continues to fall under the general protection target of 20%, bearing in mind the challenges stemming from its significant natural resource exploitation potential. For this reason, the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach is enthusiastically pursuing efforts with Makivik Corporation, the Kativik Regional Government, Hydro-Québec, and the Québec government to apply the Specific Agreement to Preserve the Cambrien Lake / Nachicapau Lake / Fort Mackenzie (Waskaikinis) Area.”
Chief Noah Swappie, Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach
“Through, collaborative efforts, we can attain this objective, which is very important to us. The territory north of the 49th parallel and the territory of Nunavik are a natural resource that we must protect. We are giving ourselves the means to match our ambitions to act in practical terms in this respect. I would like to thank my colleague Denis Lamothe, MNA for Ungava, for his extensive involvement in this matter. Today’s announcement will help preserve the culture of the communities that use these territories to engage in traditional activities.”
Ian Lafrenière, Minister Responsible for Indigenous Affairs
“Our government is once again demonstrating its commitment to develop an adapted network of protected areas for Québec. Today’s announcement reflects the excellent collaboration with our Inuit, Cree, and Naskapi partners to give concrete expression to new successes from the standpoint of northern biodiversity conservation. By continuing to work together in a collaborative spirit we will pursue balanced development north of the 49th parallel in keeping with the perspective of those who use the territory. Québec is thus continuing to demonstrate its leadership and pragmatism in the realm of sustainable development.”
Jonatan Julien, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources and Minister Responsible for the Côte-Nord Region
“The vast territory of Nunavik abounds in wonders, including its splendid landscapes, biodiversity, and the activities carried on there. It covers nearly 30 000 km2 and is a treasure that we must protect. I am particularly proud of the collaboration with the Inuit, Naskapi, and Cree nations that led to the attainment of this protection objective in the territory of Nunavik. This once again proves that together, we can accomplish a great deal.”
Pierre Dufour, Minister of Forests, Wildlife and Parks
“This announcement is good news for several reasons. It reveals our government’s determination to fulfill its commitments to protect the environment and safeguard biodiversity. It confirms that we can negotiate profitably in a spirit of respect for our partners from the Aboriginal nations, and that we are very keen to perpetuate the culture and traditions of our fellow citizens from the First Nations and Inuit.”
Denis Lamothe, MNA for Ungava
- Initially recognized by the Nunavik Protected Areas Working Group and its advisory committee as conservation priorities, the establishment of the eight new reserves and the expansion of two reserves follow up a joint recommendation of the Minister of the Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change, the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, and the Minister of Forests, Wildlife and Parks.
- Since 2015, the Société du Plan Nord has allocated $4.25 million to the Northern Plan Fund to carry out initiatives pertaining to protected areas throughout the territory that extends north of the 49th parallel.
- The territory reserved for the purposes of a protected area is a designation introduced in the Natural Heritage Conservation Act in 2002. It allows for the inclusion of a territory in the Register of Protected Areas until the steps leading to the attribution of legally protected status are completed.
- As stipulated in the procedure, a public consultation of the communities concerned will be conducted in the next two years in close collaboration with the advisory committee of the Nunavik Protected Areas Working Group.
- The environmental and social impact assessment and review procedure stipulated in Chapter 23 of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement and the Environment Quality Act apply north of the 55th parallel. An environmental impact assessment statement must be prepared, and public consultations could be held at the discretion of the Kativik Environmental Quality Commission.
- The government’s objective was to protect 20% of the territory north of the 49th parallel by the end of 2020. The objective was transferred to Nunavik during the planning process of the network of protected areas for this region at the request of the region.
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Office of the Minister of the
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