Second Innu blockade erected to protest Quebec Hydro project
MALIOTENAM, QUE. – Dissident Innu protesters have set up a new blockade of the main supply road to a major northern Quebec Hydro dam project.
About 20 young people used large trees to prevent heavy traffic and goods from heading east along Hwy. 138 to the Romaine River dam that’s being built about 700 km northeast of Quebec City.
Trucks carrying food and other essential items have been permitted to cross the barricade. Police dismantled another blockade set up last week, but protesters set up more debris on the road Sunday.
“It’s been thousands of years we’ve been fighting for our territory,” protester Jean-Sebastien Vollant said while erecting a fence.
Another protester, Normand Vachon, accused the band council of corruption, and said it was reaching deals with the government without the peoples’ consent.
Protesters say they have been systematically excluded from talks related to Quebec’s Northern Plan to develop natural resources. Quebec wants to exploit mining, forest and energy resources in an area of about 1.2 million square kilometres, a little more than twice the size of France.
The Uashat-Maliotenam band council has distanced itself from the demonstrators, calling for negotiation instead of barricades.
Quebec’s Public Security Minister Stephane Bergeron said the protesters are taking the North Shore hostage. “We can’t accept that a strategic regional road can be blocked for 12, 24, 36 or 48 hours,” he said. Police had yet to move in as of Monday morning.