The Disappearing Forests of Eeyou Astchee
A documentary on the impact of forest development on the Cree of Northern Québec. (46 minutes, in Cree, English and French versions)
Struggles to preserve traditional lands and to control the development of their resources have touched many aboriginal nations in recent years. The Disappearing Forests of Eeyou Astchee is a film about one such struggle as it unfolds in the Cree territories of Northern Quebec.
For hundreds of generations, the Cree of Northern Quebec have lived in a land they call Eeyou Astchee. The vast boreal forests of this region shelter a huge variety of animal and plant species. Cree elders remember when the land was bountiful, when the Cree lived from the land. 40% of the people of Eeyou Astchee still depend on the land and its resources to sustain them.
The Disappearing Forests of Eeyou Astchee looks at the forest environment in the overall context of Cree culture, as it contributes to fulfillment of the material and spiritual needs of the Cree people, and its importance to traditional activities of hunting, trapping and fishing. It shows the central role of the tallyman (a land and resource manager) in keeping the system in balance and preventing over-exploitation of traplines.
It also looks at the enormous impact logging and forestry development have had on the environment and people of Eeyou Astchee. In the more southern communities, 100% of some traplines have been logged. Destruction of the boreal forest in Eeyou Astchee is proceding at an alarming rate: 5,000 sq. kms. of forest have been cut in since 1975; another 52,000, sq. kms. is slated for current and future development. Some Cree communities want to develop their own forest resources as well as new models of forest management, but have access to only 5% of the land surrounding their communities. The remainder is in the hands of non-native forestry companies in the form of 25-year renewable concessions allocated to them by the Quebec government.
Through the voices of the people most affected by forestry development - the trappers and Cree residents of Waswanipi, Mistassini, Oujé-Bougoumou, Waskaganish and Nemaska - as well as those of government officials and representatives of the forestry industry, The Disappearing Forests of Eeyou Astchee weaves a tale of cultures in conflict, of the competing needs and claims of forest developers, nation builders and aboriginal communities.
Produced for the Grand Council of the Cree
by Nutaaq Media Inc.
Directed by George Hargrave and Jocelyne Clarke
Camera: Paul Rickard
Narrators: Gaston Cooper
Editor: Jocelyne Clarke
Music: Eric Lemoyne