Naskapi Perspective on Caribou Harvesting

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1 Naskapi Perspective on Caribou Harvesting Migratory Caribou Workshop Montréal, January 20-22, 2010 Presented by John Mameamskum Director General Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach

2 The Naskapis: Brief History Occupied interior of Québec-Labrador Peninsula since time immemorial Nomadic existence, following caribou herds from Hudson Bay in the West to the Labrador Coast in the East Source: Naskapi Development Corporation. August A Parcel of Fools. Economic Development and the Naskapis of Québec 2

3 The Naskapis: Brief History Seasonal gathering at various posts of the Hudson s Bay Company and at favoured hunting locations For example, Indian House Lake on the George River, a major crossing point for caribou during fall migration Source: Bergerud et al The Return of Caribou to Ungava 3

4 The Naskapis: Brief History Between mid-1800s and mid- 1900s, Naskapis were relocated to Fort Chimo, Fort Nascopie and Fort McKenzie according to commercial needs and interests of Hudson s Bay Company Relocations weakened link with traditional territory and with caribou. Situation aggravated by serious decline in number of caribou in traditional territory after about

5 The Naskapis: Brief History 1956: Settled in Schefferville Area, Québec First at John Lake & Matimekush In early 1980s, relocated to Kawawachikamach (±16 km northeast of Schefferville) Kawawachikamach 5

6 6

7 Former Pits of Iron Ore Company of Canada 7

8 The Naskapis: Brief History Caribou still rare throughout Northeastern portion of Québec- Labrador Peninsula through the 1960s Graph (left): Relative abundance of the George River Herd (1800 to 1993) compared to long-term climatic factors Source: Modified from Bergerud et al The Return of Caribou to Ungava 8

9 The Naskapis: Brief History 1978: We signed a comprehensive land-claims settlement, the Northeastern Québec Agreement ( NEQA ), with the governments of Québec and Canada Negotiations coincided broadly with the rise in population of George River Herd, the herd on which we depended traditionally 9

10 NEQA & Caribou NEQA gave us means to rebuild and strengthen our millennial relationship with caribou: Our right to hunt caribou virtually without restriction gained force of a treaty right, which subsequently received constitutional protection in 1982 Right defined in some detail so as to include: personal and community use; right to possess and use all equipment reasonably needed; right to travel and establish camps; right to use present and traditional harvesting methods unless such methods affect public safety; right to possess and transport products of harvesting activity within territory covered by treaty; and right to trade in and conduct commerce in all by-products of our harvesting activities. 10

11 NEQA & Caribou Acquired right of first refusal over 7/10 applications of new outfitting camps in certain areas We experienced problems in exercising that right, largely because Québec supported proliferation of mobile outfitting camps, largely for sport hunting of caribou, in our Territory. In October, 2009, we signed a Partnership Agreement with Québec. We expect that that agreement will assist us in resolving those problems. 11

12 NEQA & Caribou We acquired right to sit on HFTCC, which has power to establish upper limit of killl of caribou for Native people and non-natives (Subject to principle of conservation, that decision binds responsible government) NEQA provided us with guaranteed level of harvesting for caribou 12

13 NEQA & Caribou Provided for a Hunter Support Programme: Québec grants an indexed amount of money every year (± $170,000 at the present time) Money used to support hunting, fishing and trapping activities, with a priority given to hunting caribou Some of the game harvested is distributed to community members, especially those unable to hunt for themselves The Partnership Agreement gives us the possibility of re-negotiating parts of this programme 13

14 NEQA & Caribou Original treaty did not recognize right to hunt caribou commercially. Amendment signed in 1993 gives us that right until Unfortunately, caribou have never been present in Schefferville area in sufficient numbers in winter to allow us to exercise that right. 14

15 The Naskapis Today Population of ±1000 registered Indians Principal language: Naskapi Preserved many aspects of our traditional way of life and culture: rely on subsistence hunting, fishing and trapping for large part of food supply and for many raw materials. 15

16 16

17 Caribou Harvested by Naskapis,

18 A Caribou Heaven Caribou has played a central role in our spiritual beliefs and practices Our belief was that there was a caribou heaven in Koroc River, north of the contemporary Inuit community of Kangiqsualujjuaq Provided that we treated caribou with respect when we killed them, the caribou master who lived there would continue to send caribou from the caribou heaven to our territory to feed and clothe us. Where? Within limits of recently created Kuururjuaq National Park 18

19 Kuururjuaq Park Source: 19

20 Québec-Labrador Border Traditionally, no boundaries in Québec-Labrador Peninsula: Caribou and ourselves wandered freely according to rhythm of seasons Euro-Canadian society created all sorts of boundaries - provincial, municipal, forest management units Like caribou, we usually ignore those boundaries, although we have occasionally been prosecuted (unsuccessfully!) for doing so 20

21 Québec-Labrador Border Wildlife populations that use both Québec and Labrador are managed separately by each jurisdiction. Separate management of shared resources benefits no-one - least of all the animals Recommendation to the governments of Québec and Labrador: Manage jointly shared caribou and other wildlife populations 21

22 Thank You 22

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