Kativik Regional Government seeks input over protected areas in Nunavik
Community consultations start in November
The Kativik Regional Government is seeking input from Nunavimmiut about areas to be protected from development in Nunavik.
Since 2020, more than 29,000 square kilometres of land in the region have been added to Quebec’s register of protected areas. The provincial government had set a goal of designating 20 per cent of Nunavik as a protected area due to its significant biodiversity.
Currently, 14 per cent of the territory has been granted official protected status, meaning they are not open to any form of industrial activity or natural resource exploration such as mining and forestry.
The eight areas designated since 2020, which comprise those 29,000 square kilometres, would increase that to 20 per cent.
Before they gain permanent and official protection status, however, the KRG is asking Nunavik Inuit, the Naskapi of Kawawachikamach, and the Cree of Whapmagoostui provide their input on the current size of these nature reserves and their relevance.
Consultations for the protected areas will begin in November in Kuujjuaq from Nov. 1 to 4, Aupaluk on Nov. 7, Tasiujaq on Nov. 14, Kangiqsualujjuaq on Nov. 17 and 18 and Kangirsuk on Nov. 9 and 10.
In other communities, information and consultation sessions will continue through the winter and spring of 2023. Information on those will be made available at a later date.
Following the consultations, there will be field trips to allow people to visit the protected areas. This will also provide an opportunity for community reflection and help define how the protected areas will be operated moving forward, whether as strict conservation areas or spaces for recreational and tourism development and promotion.
According to Quebec’s Environment Ministry, the eight areas designated since 2020 and which the consultations are focused on are Rivière-Innuksuac, Rivière-Arnaud, Tursujuq-Nord, Tursujuq-Centre, Tursujuq-Sud, Canyon-Eaton, Marais-Maritime and Rivière-George-Nord. Also, the boundaries of the existing Rivière-Marralik and Rivière-George reserves will be expanded.
The KRG said public consultations will take place in two phases and be completed by 2024.
The first phase is the consultations. The second will run from 2023 to 2024 and involve discussions on precise boundaries and further development of the protected areas.
In Nunavik, rights negotiated under the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement and the Northeastern Quebec Agreement take precedence over any laws or regulations related to protected areas.
This means Inuit, the Cree and the Naskapis retain their hunting, fishing and trapping rights in protected areas.
The consultation process for these areas is to ensure people from the region are heard “because the cultural dimension is essential to the creation of protected areas in Nunavik,” said KRG spokesperson Rocio Valencia.