Course:FRST270/Wiki Projects/Caribou Population at Risk in Quebec

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Waswanipi Cree- The Fight for Broadback Valley Forest Protection

The Waswanipi Cree is one of nine Cree communities located in the Iiyiyuuschii territory of northern Quebec. With a current population of 1,500 individuals, this southernmost Cree has been working for over 10 years to protect their way of life including the ancestral trap lines, birch trees, and endangered woodland Caribou that conflict with present-day industrial logging interest. Acting upon this pressure, the Waswanipi, in partnership with local hunters, logging companies, universities, and push from the Canadian federal government's Model Forest Network, enacted the Waswanipi Cree Model Forest. This is the first Aboriginal model forest and one of only eleven Canadian model forests. While falling short of their original goal in 2015, the Cree managed to protect over 2.3 million acres of traditional territory and continue to advocate for protection from increasing logging and road construction pressure [1] . Although the Aboriginal model forest proved successful in helping the Waswanipi Cree to secure land rights, uncertainty remains as to whether the model will suffice in protecting the traditional livelihoods of the Cree forever.


The Waswanipi Cree reside in the Broadback Valley [2], one of the last intact, virgin stands of Boreal forests in Quebec. In Northern Canada alone, over 600 indigenous communities can be found today. [3] Among these are the Iiyiyuu and Iinuu (Cree for "people") residing in over nine different Cree's on Iiyiyuuschii, (Cree for "traditional territory.") [1] Within these nine are four "island cree's" or nuuchimiich, with which the Waswanipi Cree are a member of. [1] With an area of 35,000 km2 [4], the Waswanipi territory is located 730 km north of Montreal; many consider the valley and the 13,000 km2 protected forest to be a "gateway to Northern Quebec." [5] Although the area itself is smaller then the country of Switzerland, the trap lines that the Waswanipi Cree manage run an expanse of over 33,000 km yet over 90% of these have been the subject of clear-cutting [6] The hunting grounds the 52 trap lines pertain to [4] are a further 300 km northwest of the valley. [2]


Wood Use



Depletion of Resources

Tenure arrangements

Canada's First Aboriginal Model Forest

Administrative arrangements

Affected Stakeholders

Interested Stakeholders

Interested Group Role Power
Natural Resource Canada Implements Canadian Model Forest High
Canadian Forest Service Overlooks Natural Resource Canada's implementation of Canadian Model Forest High
University Students Attended symposium to learn, support, and provide feedback on Cree model Low
Greenpeace Non-governmental organization who raises awareness and support for protection Low
Canadian Model Forest Network Government of BC's program to provides direct support and funding for creation and management of Aboriginal Model Forest High
Industrial Logging Companies Interested in Waswanipi land and continued development using clear-cutting practices Medium
Hunters Local hunters hunt moose and rabbit on Waswanipi land Low
Canadian Council of Forest Ministries Subset of government in charge of implementing change for Waswanipi Cree at the highest level HIgh
Researchers on Moose Habitat Researchers called upon by Waswanipi Cree to analyze accuracy of traditional ecological knowledge and propose strategies for moose habitat management to increase biodiversity Low
Example Example Example



Assessment and Recommendations


Axelrod, J. (2017, October 10). Indigenous Communities Lead Way to Boreal Forest Protection [Web log post]. Retrieved October 17, 2017, from [3]

Bernstien, J. (206, January 26). Waswanipi Cree demand virgin forest, caribou be protected from logging. CBC News. Retrieved October 17, 2017, from [5]

Cheveau, M., Imbeau, L., Drapeau, P., & Belanger, L. (2008). Current status and future directions of traditional ecological knowledge in forest management: a review (2nd ed., Vol. 84, pp. 231-243, Tech.). Ottawa, ON: Canadian Science Publishing. Retrieved October 17, 2017, from [7]

Cree Cultural Institute. (n.d.). Waswanipi. Retrieved October 17, 2017, from [1]

Emmett, B. (2006). Canadian Model Forest Network Achievements (pp. 1-28) (Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service). Ottawa, ON: Natural Resources Canada. Retrieved October 17, 2017, from [8]

Happyjack, M. (2016, January 19). Cree First Nation of Waswanipi. Retrieved October 17, 2017, from [9]

Jacqumain, H., Dussault, C., Courtois, R., & Bélanger, L. (2008). Moose–habitat relationships: integrating local Cree native knowledge and scientific findings in northern Quebec (12th ed., Vol. 38, pp. 3120-3132, Tech.). Canadian Journal of Forest Research. doi: [10]

Moas, A. (n.d.). Intact but Not Untouched: What I Learned From an Indigenous Community’s Fight to Save Canada’s Boreal Forest (Rep.). Washington,D.C.: Greenpeace. Retrieved October 17, 2017, from [11]

Mulvihill, K., & Preuss, E. (Producers). (2017, January 31). The Call to Protect One of the Last Untouched Stretches of the Boreal Forest [Video file]. Retrieved November 1, 2017, from [6]

Parsons, R., & Prest, G. (2004). Aboriginal forestry in Canada (4th ed., Vol. 79, pp. 779-784, Rep.). The Forestry Chronicle. Retrieved October 17, 2017, from [12]

Perreaux, L. (2017, April 7). Quebec Cree's campaign to save ancestral forest goes global. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved October 17, 2017, from [2]

Roberts, Gautum, & Pelletier. (2008). Waswinipi Cree Model Forest, Quebec, Canada. In People and Biodiversity Policies - Impacts, Issues, and Strategies for Policy Action (pp. 213-214). Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Retrieved October 17, 2017, from [4]

Seekiefer (Pinus halepensis) 9months-fromtop.jpg
This conservation resource was created by Elliot Bellis.

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