The North Star


Unauthorized tree cutting by Saint-Michel Sawmill

The families of Manawan mobilize to defend their lands

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On Thursday, February 17, the Dubé family, custodians of Nitaskinan (ancestral Atikamekw land) asked the Saint-Michel Sawmill corporation to cease operations on their territory. The company had just cut trees in a sugar maple grove located on the Dubé family's ancestral land. According to a "harmonization agreement" between the Quebec government and the Atikamekw Band Council in May 2018, the Dubé family is required to allow logging in this maple grove. Despite this, on Friday, even after a cease and desist letter was served by the Dubé family's lawyer, the company continued its logging operations. The Dubé family, in reaction to this, organized a blockade on Manawan road.

According to the territorial chief Henri Dubé, the company knew that the maple grove was protected. In his own defence, the director-president of Scierie Saint-Michel stated in an interview with Radio Canada on February 19 that until the government asked him to, he would continue his company's logging operation. 

The Dubé family's opposition is not the first act of resistance to logging in the region in recent times. In March 2021, the road leading into Manawan was blocked by Atikamekw and Innu people to put a stop to exploitative logging in the region. In November, the Manawan community imposed a complete moratorium on logging. Nonetheless, their forests are still being cut down.

Despite the declaration of sovereignty on the territory of Manawan in 2014, as well as the many blockades of logging roads by Atikamekw people within the last ten years, logging companies still refuse to recognize the authority of the regional Atikamekw Council.

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