Nunavik continues to wrestle with Quebec’s land protection scheme
Communities want to see more than 50 per cent of Nunavik protected from industrial development
The tedious process of selecting Nunavik lands to protect from industrial development won’t be a waste of time, Kativik Regional Government chairperson Maggie Emudluk said at the recent meeting of the KRG council in Kuujjuaq.
There’s a chance to protect more land from development than the Plan Nord calls for, she said.
So it’s a “political opportunity” to protect lands in Nunavik, Emudluk said.
The land protection process began in 2009 when the KRG, Makivik Corp., and Quebec’s environmental department started consultations with Nunavik communities on plans to protect 11 areas, which would help Quebec meet an international commitment to protect 12 per cent of Quebec’s land.
Roughly nine per cent of northern Quebec is currently sheltered from development, as parks, park reserves or protected areas.
With the launch of Plan Nord last May, Quebec pledged to increase that level of protection to 12 per cent of the lands above the 49th parallel by 2015.
Earlier this year, Quebec proposed increasing the percentage of land to be protected in the region to 20 per cent.
By 2035, Quebec wants to make 50 per cent of the lands above the 49th parallel (a vast area which also includes the James Bay and Lower North Shore regions) into parks, protected areas, land reserves or areas sheltered from industrial development.
The complexities of the vow to keep 50 per cent of the province’s North from industrial development has confused many in Nunavik. And if there’s any recurrent theme from community consultations, it’s that people want to protect river valleys and coastal regions
Many also want to see more than 50 per cent of Nunavik protected — rather than just half of northern Quebec above the 49th parallel, the KRG councillors heard.
Already the land protection proposals from Nunavik communities add up to much more than what Quebec has proposed.
In addition to protecting important harvesting areas, communities also want to keep some flexibility in deciding what areas to protect so caribou calving areas can be spared.
And they want to have the final say in what lands end up safe from development, according to a consultation report discussed at the KRG meeting.