Innu and Atikamekw blockades seek to defend ancestral territories in Quebec from logging

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo from Collectif Mashk Assi Facebook page.

Indigenous land defenders are expected to continue blockades this summer on Innu Nitassinan territory (south of Lake Kénogami) and Atikamekw Nitaskinan territory (near La Tuque and Manawan). This area is located about 465 kilometres north-east of Ottawa.

The independent news source Pivot reports (in French): “Since Tuesday [May 30], after issuing an eviction notice to seven [logging companies], the Mashk Assi Collective and Atikamekw and non-Atikamekw allies have been blocking a logging road south of Lake Kénogami to prevent the passage of machinery.”

The article adds: “Mashk Assi is an independent group dedicated to the protection of territory and the implementation of ancestral sovereignty over unceded territories.”

“On Monday [May 29], the collective sent an eviction letter signed by 35 land guards to seven logging companies operating on Nitassinan (Innu territory). This letter argues that logging activities are illegal, as they are carried out on unceded territory and without the consent of the custodian families of the territory.”

“While agreements between band councils and foresters sometimes govern logging, Mashk Assi points out that the cutting areas concerned are outside reserve territories. Thus, since they target areas outside the jurisdiction of band councils, the agreements are void, according to the collective.”

And the article notes: “Members of Ekoni Aci (“enough is enough”), which brings together defenders of the Atikamekw territory of Manawan and Wemotaci, went to the blockade site to lend a hand to the Mashk Assi collective in its fight. …The Association for the Protection of Lake Kénogami, which brings together residents and non-native vacationers, has also expressed its support for the blockade.”

Radio-Canada has also reported (in French): “The Mashk Assi Collective and guardians of the Innu ancestral territory want to force a stop to logging north of the Laurentian Wildlife Reserve and in the Lake Kénogami watershed in Saguenay.”

That article further notes: “Since early March, Atikamekw from Wemotaci have been blocking a logging road north of La Tuque to protest logging on their ancestral territory. This blockage is in addition to the one that has existed for more than a year in Manawan, the other Atikamekw community in Haute-Mauricie.”

Photo by Matawinie Mobilization.

It’s Going Down further explains: “On May 19th, a hard blockade was set up on the road ahead of the year-old camp, but after conflict between land defenders and Atikamekw forestry employees, the blockade at KM 16 was dismantled.”

It adds: “Logging on Atikamekw territory has come to a halt in the first week of June due to forest fires, but it is likely blockading will resume and multiply once the fires are put out.”

For more, please see Collectif Mashk Assi and Mobilisation Matawinie on Facebook.

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