Quebec appeal court victory upholds Inuit, Cree, Naskapi treaty rights
“Hunting caribou forms an integral part of traditional and current Inuit livelihood and must be protected"
The Inuit, Cree and Naskapi of northern Quebec are celebrating a Quebec Court of Appeal decision that ruled the Quebec government violated their treaty rights when it set caribou hunting quotas for the 2011-12 season, the groups said Aug.11 in a news release.
The three groups — represented by Makivik Corp., the Grand Council of the Crees and the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach — had appealed an earlier decision by the Quebec Superior Court.
“Makivik is very pleased that the appeal court strongly reiterated the obligations of the federal and provincial governments in regards to hunting, fishing and trapping provisions,” Adamie Alaku, a vice president with Makivik, said in the news release.
In March 2011, the Quebec minister of natural resources changed the hunting season for the Leaf River caribou herd and set levels for the George River herd without consultation from the Hunting, Fishing and Trapping Coordinating Committee, an advisory board created under the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, the release said.
Both caribou herds have been in steep decline in recent years.
The George River herd was estimated at 27,600 caribou in 2012, down two-thirds from only two years before and about 80 per cent lower than the herd’s 2001 level.
The Leaf River herd was estimated at 430,000 in 2011 but was also in a “decreasing phase.”
The court of appeal ruling said the minister prioritized non-Aboriginal sports hunters but that the traditional way of life of the Aboriginal peoples must take precedence, the press release said.
“Hunting caribou forms an integral part of traditional and current Inuit livelihood and must be protected,” Alaku said in the release.