Seven Indigenous Nations from Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador signed an “historic” caribou management plan to save two herds over two provinces.
The Caribou Management Strategy aims to preserve herds across the Ungava Peninsula.
Officials have been working on the agreement for four years.
“It has been our food, our shelter, our clothing, our culture our legends and in our dreams,” said Adamie Delisle-Alaku, co-chair of the agreement.
“In more modern times it is a large part of our economy.”
Across the Ungava Peninsula, the George River and Leaf River caribou herds have been declining dramatically.
According to numbers in a release sent out by the group, the George River Herd peaked in the early 1990s and has been in steep decline since then. The caribou population fell from an estimated 770,000 in 1993, to 385,000 in 2001, to 74,000 in 2010, to 22,000 in 2012, to 14,000 in 2014, to 9,000 at present. The Leaf River Herd peaked at 628,000 in 2001 and has declined to 430,000 in 2011, 332,000 in 2015, and 199,000 in 2016.
According to the release, the goal of the plan is “to adapt to population highs and lows to the extent possible, while accepting natural variability and working within its confines, and making the right decisions at the right times to optimize social, spiritual, economic and cultural benefits for all Peoples, while respecting the priority of access for Indigenous Peoples.”
To accomplish this, there are five goals; an Indigenous Sharing Agreement, research and monitoring plan, habitat management and environmental impact plan, stewardship, education, and communication plan, and a social and economic plan.
The signatories to the agreement have urged the Quebec government to stop the sport hunt of the Leaf River herd.
They said they want a clear commitment and adequate measures in place by 2018.
“The ministry had advised us that they would stop the sport hunt in 2018 but that is only one step towards the conservation,” said Delisle-Alaku.
“We have gone tired of government coming in and imposing their measures and we have taken about ourselves to have our own strategy and come up with measures that will help re-grow the population.”
The communities involved are the Inuit of Nunavik (represented by Makivik Corporation), the Inuit of Nunatsiavut (represented by the Nunatsiavut Government), the NunatuKavut Community Council, the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach, the Grand Council of the Crees of Eeyou Istchee/Cree Nation Government (GCCEI/CNG) represent the Cree Nation Government, the Innu Nation of Labrador, and the Innu communities of Québec are represented by the “Nation Innue.”