On Monday August 24, following a family-friendly demonstration for the protection of the forests in Lanaudière, around thirty activists from the collective Mobilisation Matawinie began holding the logging site CAPITAINE, which kick started operations a couple days later. Covering 472 hectares of land, the work site where activists are sleeping is situated on unceded Atikamekw territory. Hemming this forest is a biological refuge, an aging patch and several lakes where numerous spawning grounds have been documented.
According to the government of Quebec's maps, the largest parts of site CAPITAINE and of the surrounding area that was subject to the 2020 public consultation is a forest that has not been felled since "before 1976," as stated in government data. However, the latter will not disclose the exact year felling operations last took place in the area.
Jennifer Raphaëlle, co-spokesperson for the group explains:
"The construction of logging roads in the area was completed just a few days ago. Putting a halt to the construction and development of these roads, as well as protecting the waterways, are at the heart of the struggle for opponents to clear cutting. The land has been split up and has had an overwhelming impact on the fauna. During our investigations into the territory, we even noticed the construction of a road in a wetland, flooded on both sides. There are laws that have to be respected. Where is the Minister?"
"It's absolutely appalling to see cutting with protection and regeneration of soils (CPRS) in old-growth forests such as these, especially amidst stands of birch trees, which are increasingly rare. These forms of cutting are synonymous with clear cutting. This forest is very precious and should become a protected area," says Milaine Brousseau Ouellette, one of the collective's activists.
"We are here to make sure forestry workers know that we're watching and that we won't let them continue. We see them and we're ready to ramp up our means of exerting pressure," says Jessica Lambert M.
Yesterday, a few hundred people joined in protest during a family-friendly demonstration for the protection of Lanaudière forests. One of the primary demands on the part of protestors was the support of GACKNA, an organization led by Atikamekw Nehirowisiw that asks for the protection of white birches, a part of their Nation's heritage. This is vital to ensure the continuation of Atikamekw traditional practices. Mobilisation Matawinie managed to garner support from a large number of people and organizations since the beginning of the summer. "They are united and their tactics are multiplying," was one of the slogans chanted at the demonstration.
"Every time we visit the territory, we discover infractions. Riparian buffer strips are disrespected, streams are crossed over by machines, deep ruts are in wetlands and oil slicks are everywhere. We're here today to show that there are people who take care of this forest and that forestry workers can't do whatever they want, wherever they want" Jennifer Raphaëlle claimed.
The activists who camped here the other night consider the public consultation carried out in 2020 to have been pointless because all of the decisions had already been made in advance. They are demanding that operations on logging site CAPITAINE be terminated so that the location, along with the neighbouring area that fell within the 2020 consultation, are transformed into protected areas.