James Bay Cree youth begin epic 850 km trek against uranium mining in territory

The James Bay Cree are taking their fight against uranium exploration in their territory to Montreal.

 Tom Fennario
APTN National News
MISTISSINI, Que.–The James Bay Cree are taking their fight against uranium exploration in their territory to Montreal.

But they’re not in a hurry to get there. The Cree Youth Council has begun an over 850 kilometre trek from their traditional territory of Eeyou Istchee to Quebec’s biggest city.

“With this march, we the Cree youth are walking in the footsteps of our ancestors, to hand deliver the message of the Cree Nation as a whole,” Youth Chairman Joshua Iserhoff explained. “Our message is clear: We have said no to uranium mining and exploration in Eeyou Istchee.”

The Stand against Uranium March left Mistissini Sunday and hopes to pick up supporters and followers on the way. The march passes through Anishnabee and Attikamekw land as it winds its way through the Laurentian Wildlife reserve, through Quebec City, before stopping in Montreal on Dec. 15.

They plan to arrive on the last day of public hearings on uranium exploration in Quebec.

“As youth, we want to make sure that our position is heard,” said Amy Linton, Chief of the Mistissini Youth Council. “We do not accept the risks and burdens that uranium development will impose on us, on our land and on our future generations.”

URANIUM WALKERS MAP 02

The Otish mountain region of Eeyou Istchee was targeted for uranium exploration, but all work there has ceased as a result of a moratorium imposed in 2013.

That could change next year when Quebec’s public environmental review body, Le Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE), presents its findings to the Minister of the Environment in May 2015.

Dubbed the “Matoush Project,” the proposed mining site sits a couple of hundred kilometres north of Mistissini, right in the middle of James Bay Cree traditional hunting grounds and waterways. According to Strateco Resources, the mining company in charge of the Matoush project, the site holds one of the highest grade uranium deposits in the world.

But the Cree nation is concerned that a uranium mine would contaminate their land and traditional way of life with radiation.

“Mistissini is the point of origin for the environmental, health and social risks that uranium presents,” said Mistissini Chief Richard Shecapio. “We have a vision for the responsible development of our territory that protects our lands and our way of life for future generations. Uranium mining has no place in that vision.”

The Cree youth council has set up Twitter account @JBCAUranium to track their progress.

 

@tfennario

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Producer Nouvelles Nationales d'APTN / Montreal

Born and raised in Montreal, Tom cut his teeth working in community television in Kahnawà:ke Mohawk Territory before joining APTN as a cameraman/editor in 2008. In 2015 he was promoted to Video Journalist. Since 2019 Tom has been a producer for the French weekly newscast Nouvelles Nationales d’APTN.