Kitcisakik’s struggle

Voices from Kitcisakik

Video: Voices from the community in Kitcisakik. Cette video est une realisation du studio Wapikoni Miskwadesi de Kitcisakik 2008.

We visited Kitcisakik (Latitude 473220; Longitude 772730). A small French speaking Algonquin community located 200km SE from Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec.  Approximately 460 people live in Kitcisakik of which less than half are below the age of 15. The community is a young and growing population not unlike other First Nations communities across Canada. Because the community is without heating it relies upon individual gas powered generators. On average it costs $4  per kWh to the community, while Hydro Quebec exports cheap electricity to the south of the Province with a cost that is on average eight cents per kWh. A visitor would be astonished therefore to witness adjacent to the community a functioning dam belonging to Hydro Quebec. Unfortunately there is no power generator associated to this dam.

This dam alters the flow rate into Lac Dozois. It is particularly galling to learn from community elders that the reservoir that the community depends upon for fishing and other water related needs had been flooded and contaminated from methyl mercury bioaccumulation. The food web inland, including meats (veal, liver) from subsistence hunting had also been contaminated. In exchange for enormous environmental and social costs a telephone line had been connected to the community, but the community lacks adequate housing and is living in poverty conditions similar to that seen in third world countries.
The provincial and federal governments consider Kitcisakik to be occupying crown land whereas the Kitcisakik First Nation considers the land to be their own. Negotiations for better conditions in the community have been ongoing for twenty years. The absence of meaningful negotiations would indicate the government’s disregard of Kitcisakik as a community of any significant importance.  The overview for CEAA 2012 clearly states that “cooperation and communication with Aboriginal peoples with respect to environmental assessment is a key component” (CEAA 2012). A report on creating a new purification field  in Kitcisakik (Registry 06-01-22413) raises the question of water quality in Kitcisakik. Regarding Quebec Hydro’s development and its severe environmental effects to water quality on Kitcisakik First Nation’s territory, one should question whether “cooperation and communication with Aboriginal peoples with respect to environmental assessment” (CEAA 2012) had earnestly been practiced.

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