Finance and Economic Development
Wind Energy Projects
The Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk First Nation (WWFN) is working to ensure its financial independence by diversifying its own revenues. It does so by being a shareholder in a wind farm and by working on the development of a second regional wind farm project, all in partnership with eight MRC.
In the winter of 2015, the First Nation signed an electricity supply contract for the 220 megawatts of the Nicolas Riou community wind energy project with its partners EDF EN Canada Inc. and Énergie Éolienne Bas-Saint-Laurent, a company owned by the MRC Rivière-du-Loup. Located in the MRC des Basques and Rimouski-Neigette, this large energy park, inaugurated in 2018, is made up of more than 60 wind turbines. The realization of this important regional project will generate significant economic benefits, especially for the WWFN. It is an exemplary project in which profits are divided equally between the private and public sectors, which use it as financial leverage for social and community projects.
Maliseet Sugar Bush
The Maliseet Sugar Bush adventure began in 2016 with the allocation to the Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk First Nation (WWFN) of a 20,000-tap quota on public lands in the ZEC Owen located in the MRC of Témiscouata. It allowed the establishment of a maple grove that had never been operated before, which is a guarantee of good production in its first years of operation.
It is a community-owned enterprise, but the management of its operations is independent of the Grand Council. The purchase of 50% of the shares of the Érablière du Lac de l’Île, a 27,000-tap establishment established 10 years ago and neighbouring the Érablière Malécite, was carried out by the WWFN. A pumping station and various equipment were installed in the fall of 2020 in order to bring the maple water from the Maliseet Sugar Bush to the Lac de l’Île Sugar Bush. The latter will be responsible for the transformation of all the maple water from the 47,000 taps as of spring 2021. However, the two productions will be reported and sold separately in order to guarantee the conservation of the quotas of each of the maple groves.
The first years of operation will be devoted to developing a superior quality organic maple syrup. Once production reaches the target, the WWFN plans to expand by becoming a distributor of community-branded processed products. This project is directly in line with the objective of ensuring the financial independence of the WWFN through the diversification of its autonomous revenues while creating new jobs.
The Kataskomiq (Whitworth) territory is a frequented but uninhabited 169-hectare reserve that is located 30 km south of Rivière-du-Loup and accessible by Route 185 and Taché Street, serving the municipality of Saint-Hubert. An industrial and commercial development project, which has been a priority of the Grand Council since the 2016 election, is being considered there. This project to maximize the use of a portion of Kataskomiq is primarily intended to generate self-sustaining revenues that will benefit the First Nation community.
Several political steps have been taken over the past 4 years in the context of the construction of separate lanes on Highway 185 at the height of the reserve by the Ministère des transports du Québec. Significant gains have been made: the portion of the road that used to pass through the territory has been rerouted for minimal encroachment and the WWFN has been assured of the installation of two direct access ramps. The next phase of the project is to complete a land designation process for the commercial and industrial portion and to consult with community members on the approval of the land use and development plan. This will be followed by the usual phases of an infrastructure project over the next few years.
Land adjacent to the Port
The project to negotiate and then occupy the territory adjacent to the Gros Cacouna seaport has been a priority of the Grand Council since the 2016 election. In July 2021, an occupancy agreement was signed with the Government of Quebec. This agreement allowed the Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk First Nation (WWFN) to acquire spaces that will allow the development of socio-economic projects as well as the transmission and valorization of its identity and culture. This development will be done while respecting the environment and the port activities, while harmonizing with other regional projects such as the parc côtier Kiskotuk.
The project includes the installation of facilities related to the WWFN’s fishing activities, the development of a linear park at the foot of the cliff and a land-based beluga whale-watching site open to the public at the top of the mountain, as well as the construction of a reception building with an institutional and cultural vocation.
Partnership With Crabiers du Nord
The partnership of the Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk First Nation with the processing company Crabiers du Nord allows the continuation of its involvement in the marine products development chain. Indeed, the shareholding in the company allows the Wahsipekuk First Nation to benefit from the revenues generated by the processing, distribution, marketing and retailing of marine products. This is a successful vertical integration that WWFN is attempting to replicate in other businesses, depending on the species harvested, in order to maximize revenues outside the harvesting sector.
Indigenous Conservation and Protected Area of Gros-cacouna Marsh
Indigenous Conservation and Protected Areas (ICPAs) are lands and waters for which indigenous people are responsible for protecting and conserving cultural values and ecosystems through laws, governance systems and indigenous knowledge. Culture and language are the essence of an ICPA. The WWFN has received funding from Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) to establish the Gros Cacouna Marsh ICPA by March 2023. As a user and guardian of its traditional territory, the WWFN wants to create an ICPA in order to protect and conserve the Gros Cacouna marsh and mountain, including the Bird Site. It wishes to protect these ecosystems of exceptional faunal and floristic richness that are located in the heart of Wolastokuk, its ancestral territory.
In collaboration with current regional stakeholders and users, the WWFN intends to benefit from the Gros Cacouna Marsh ICPA in order to improve its management and territorial planning capacities by actively participating in research, protection and conservation measures as well as the development of the territory. Moreover, the ICPA will allow the WWFN to promote the affirmation, the influence and the transmission of its Wolastoqey identity.
Partnership With Kiskotuk and Future Related Projects
The parc côtier Kiskotuk is a humanized regional park that was not created by ministerial decree, but by the community’s willingness to voluntarily invest in the preservation and enhancement of its remarkable territory in many ways. It extends over a coastal strip of nearly 30 kilometres of breathtaking inhabited coastal landscapes. Its territory is articulated around seven discovery sectors spread along the coasts of the municipalities of Cacouna, Isle-Verte and Notre-Dame-des-Sept-Douleurs (Île Verte). Several outdoor activities are offered as well as reception and interpretation activities, in addition to an original lodging offer. The park is managed by a non-profit organization called the Parc côtier Kiskotuk Corporation. WWFN has had a seat on the Board of Directors of the Corporation since the early days of the project.
Despite the dispersal of the WWFN membership, its identity remains alive and well. The recognition and protection of this identity (land, language and culture) is a priority for the Grand Council. The parc côtier Kiskotuk territory contains lands that have a sacred connotation for the First Nation. The Gros Cacouna Marsh, which lies in the heart of Wolastokuk (ancestral territory), is of particular symbolic importance to the WWFN, as their ancestors stopped there to hunt and fish. Using the parc côtier Kiskotuk as a platform to disseminate information about the Wolastoqey identity to the general public was therefore a natural choice.
A partnership was thus established in 2018 with the Corporation PARC Bas-Saint-Laurent, the park’s main manager, to imagine the first phase of a promotion project that was funded by Canada Economic Development and carried out from 2019 to 2021. It includes several components, including the development of interpretive infrastructures (interpretive agora at the Site ornithologique du Marais de Gros-Cacouna, shaputuan, wigwams and the shelter of the common fire area in the Passereaux campground sector), the development of a network of interpretive panels, as well as the production of storytelling evenings and pedagogical sheets to offer activities to discover the Wolastoqey identity to visitors to the parc côtier Kiskotuk, including youth groups in the region.
A long-term partnership has been established with the managers of the parc côtier Kiskotuk in order to offer guided workshops and storytelling evenings throughout the park’s operating season, starting in June 2021.
Partnership With SALAWEG
SALAWEG was developed by the AGHAMM (Association de gestion halieutique autochtone Mi'gmaq et Wolastoqiyik [Malécite]) and its three member communities (the Mi’gmaq of Gesgapegiag, the Mi’gmaq of Gespeg and the Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk First Nation). Since 2012, they have been working together to develop a little-exploited biomass and to diversify the exploitation of marine resources in the Gaspé Peninsula and the Lower St. Lawrence.
A colossal work of research and development allowed SALAWEG to be born after more than four years of work on, in particular, the improvement of the yields in algoculture as well as the marketing and the development of products containing seaweed. It is in 2017 that the adventure comes to light and SALAWEG begins its commercial activities with the launch of a range of four products. The research to increase the range of products is constant.
Easy to use, the products of the SALAWEG range require little preparation. They are designed to reinvent cooking with new ingredients.