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View of the tundra caribou from Mushuau-nipi — Part 2

Towards the definition of shared solutions

By Jérôme Spaggiari, Conservation Coordinator, SNAP-Québec

This post is a continuation of a previous blog published here.

There are many reasons for the decline of the George River caribou herd numbers, aside from the expected cyclic variation component, and to understand them in depth would require a lot more research. But the safety-first principle and the stakes involved in the possible disappearance of this species must push us to take action quickly and effectively. While waiting for the proceedings of the Nordic Aboriginal Seminar, it is my pleasure to share with you the elements of solutions our group has identified.

The territory of this herd is shared by three Aboriginal nations, the Innu, the Naskapi and the Inuit, as well as two provinces, Québec and Newfoundland-Labrador. Other stakeholders, like the Cree nation and the federal government, should also be mentioned under the circumstances. It is therefore imperative that the management of this species and its habitat be viewed with a perspective of necessary and respectful collaboration between aboriginal and non-aboriginal governments.

Multidisciplinary research must be carried out in order to better understand the population dynamics of this species and the significance of its interaction with the human population with whom it shares its territory. This research could help us to determine the role that habitat disturbance (from prospecting and mining activities, development, people and goods, modification of waterways, etc.) plays in the decline of population numbers and also to determine whether a continued Aboriginal hunt of the herd is sustainable. If it’s possible to reach a sustainable level for hunting, it will then be important that a code of hunting practices be redefined (the kind and number of animals allowed to be hunted, the type of hunt, etc).

Considering the ecology of this species (the vast distribution, wide dispersion, sensitivity to disturbance), it can be considered to be an excellent indicator for the planning of the eventual development of Québec’s North (connectivity of the landscape, conservation areas vs. development areas).  We also feel it is necessary to halt all industrial development in the home of the caribou before we can adequately protect sufficient habitat for this species.

The shaputuan and several tepees glow under the green light of the aurora borealis.  Photo credit: Jérôme Spaggiari

We know that our ideas must be complemented by actions and CPAWS Québec will do its part, but our efforts have already been largely rewarded. On the first evening we had the chance to watch the beautiful aurora borealis and the elders, Élisabeth Ashini, Évelyne Saint-Onge and Marie-Line Ambroise, organized a memorable makusham for us.

Additional photos of the Nordic Aboriginal Seminar can be seen on CPAWS-Québec's Facebook page.


I’d like to add my personal thanks with those of SNAP-Québec to Mountain-Equipment Co-op, whose generous contributions to SNAP-Québec made my participation in this seminar possible.

This text has been translated from French by Birgit Schultz, a CPAWS Québec volunteer. To read the original version, click here.