‘Too risky’: Atikamekw blockade targets open-pit mining project in Northern Quebec


Remote land defence aims to stop North America’s largest graphite mine

News by Christopher Curtis

MATAWINI RIVER, QC — They made their stand on an unpaved road in the heart of logging country.

It isn’t an ideal place to protest. Quebec’s cellular network doesn’t reach this far into the foothills of the Haute-Mauricie, and the road leading here is treacherous.

A sudden turn or a stiff pump of the brakes and you’re liable to drift into a ravine.

Ideal or not, this is where the Atikamekw of Manawan First Nation resisted a $750-million mining project on their traditional territory on Monday. About 30 people erected a temporary blockade on Monday at an intersection outside their community, preventing logging trucks from entering their territory or hauling timber out of it.

“Basically, they’re conducting a giant lab experiment but with the future of a region’s ecology.”

“Logging is already threatening our way of life. Now our existence on this land is at stake,” said Yvan Boivin, who organized the blockade. “If our animals die, we die with them as a people. If the water gets contaminated, we get poisoned too. A mine of this size will only hasten our demise.”

One trucker stepped out of his rig to curse the land defenders, and others pulled on their horn to try to annoy the Atikamekw. The lone police officer on site was trapped on the south side of the intersection, coordinating safe passage for an ambulance that needed to pass through.

When they lifted the gate, a tractor trailer rushed behind the ambulance, nearly hitting protesters while driving through their encampment. With construction on the mine set to begin by year’s end, this may be the opening salvo in a protracted conflict between pitting hunters, conservationists and the Atikamekw against the project and its backers in Quebec’s government.

Read the full article at Ricochet.