Message from Chief Advisor Amélie Larouche
Qey Psi-wen. As Chief Advisor, I had the great pleasure of having my mandate renewed in June 2016. This will help provide stability. It will also allow me to carry on my responsibilities related to natural resources and territory. In the months following the election, all the members of the governance team, especially the newly elected representatives, took the time to appropriate the duties assigned to them and to become acquainted with the issues of the natural resources and territory department.
The various natural and human environment-related activities in which we engage present numerous opportunities that we intend to fully develop. In order to gain the maximum benefit from opportunities in the forestry, biology, anthropology, and historical sectors, we will have to focus on hiring qualified staff to help us move forward during the consultations and claims process. It will be important to establish a solid multidisciplinary structure in order to respond to the needs identified and to support the progress of the VMFN. Hiring will be a priority issue in the upcoming months. A good example is the arrival of an archeologist, who has become an important asset on the team. She provides the expertise that is needed to preserve the evidence of occupation of the territory.
In the last few months, we spent a lot of time working with various government departments. We are targeting major results in the forestry sector, but there are serious issues that must be faced, such as the funding delays from the ministère québécois des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs (MFFP). The MFFP bases its decisions on the government fiscal year, which runs from April 1 until March 31. Due to the time it takes to file our funding application and to await for government analysis and confirmation, we usually receive funding confirmation only in October. The funds have to be spent before the following March 31. Our biggest challenge is to produce the expected deliverables in a very short time period. We have frequently expressed our disagreement with such a situation to the MFFP. We have also had discussions with the ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles (MERN) concerning the sale of leasing concessions on lands that are claimed by the VMFN. Several parallel meetings have been organized with the MERN and have led to improvements in our “Policy concerning camp establishments”. These improvements have helped reinforce the Aboriginal spirit, which is closely connected with the notion of protecting the territory. Meetings are ongoing with the ministère des Transports (MTQ) concerning the construction of Road 85, which is expected to pass through the territory we are claiming and the Whitworth Reserve. During the next stage, we will formulate our official concerns and expectations in order to begin negotiations with the MTQ, based on the principle of accommodating the VMFN.
As an elected representative, I have invested a great deal of effort in various partnerships, including the partnership with the SÉPAQ and with the Jardins de Métis. The purpose of these partnerships is to foster and maintain reappropriation of our territory and access thereto. The purpose of our engagement in such actions is to promote our role as protectors of the land and to advocate for our rights as first peoples. Activities in the area of endangered species have included the creation of a migratory run for the American Eel. Due to the success of this first initiative, we will file a formal application for the creation of a second migratory run in 2017.
In conclusion, I would like to express my particular gratitude to Marie-Hélène Ouellet-d’Amours, who has worked with us since June 2015 on major issues, such as the management of sites of interest to the Maliseets, the study on ancestral land occupation and Web History. Her countless contributions and devotion to our cause have made of her an important ally. Her presence will be sorely missed. She has accepted a position for the Conseil régional en environnement du Bas-St-Laurent. We wish her continued success in her new duties.
I personally will continue be available to answer your questions. You can contact me at 418 860-2393 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. With sincere thanks.