Cree and Innu sign agreement over caribou harvest in Cree territory
Agreement spells out protocols, will allow Innu hunters to harvest 300 caribou
Cree and Innu leaders in northern Quebec have signed a nation to nation agreement allowing Innu hunters to harvest 300 caribou this winter on Cree traditional territory east of Chisasibi.
The agreement is called Maamuu nisituhtimuwin/ Matinueu-mashinaikan atiku e uauinakanit, which translates to « mutual understanding » and was signed during a virtual ceremony Monday afternoon.
« [It] is an historic event for both nations, because it really signals for the first time in history, Indigenous groups getting together and working on a preservation and conservation approach that’s based on cultural and traditional exchanges, » said Cree Grand Chief Mandy Gull-Masty. Chisasibi is located some 1,700 kilometres north of Montreal.
The 300 caribou from the Leaf River herd are being « gifted » to the nine communities of the Innu nation and are coming out of a guaranteed Cree harvest of 850 caribou that is part of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement signed in 1975, said Cree officials.
Innu leaders said Monday the gesture is deeply appreciated.
A sharing relationship that dates back to time immemorial.
-Mike McKenzie, Chief of Uashat Mak Mani-utenam
« For us, this community hunt will not only meet a need for our Elders’ food security, but also perpetuate a sharing relationship that dates back to time immemorial, » said Chief Mike McKenzie, Chief of the Innu community of Uashat Mak Mani-utenam and spokesperson for the nine Innu communities, in a news release.
Caribou in decline
Caribou populations have been in severe decline for many years, in particular the George River herd, which was most present on the traditional territory of the Innu and Inuit in both Quebec and Labrador.
That herd is down to just over 8,000 animals, just 1 per cent of its 1990 population of more than 800,000 animals. There has been a complete ban on hunting the George River herd in both Labrador and Quebec for several years.
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Source: CBC Indigenous
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