Conservation and biodiversity

Nunavik’s geographic location and geological history have produced stunning landscapes with many natural environments deserving of protection for their outstanding characteristics. Climate change and development projects however are exerting pressure on the recovery capacities of plants and wildlife. Specific areas have been identified and reserved for parks and protected areas by the Government of Québec. Consultations and collaboration with communities are serving to ensure that park and protected area projects contribute to the continued practice of subsistence activities by Inuit, Cree and Naskapi. Together, the Kativik Regional Government through Nunavik Parks, the Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques (the environment and the fight against climate change) and the Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs (forests, wildlife and parks) are responsible for the management of parks and protected areas, their protection and development activities.

The KEAC feels that Inuit and Naskapi involvement in biodiversity issues as well as greater use of related Indigenous traditional knowledge would improve understanding of the region’s biodiversity. In addition, the KEAC monitors the creation of national parks and the identification of protected areas, participating at public hearings when applicable and submitting recommendations and feedback to the concerned authorities. The KEAC is focused in particular on the protection of the hunting, fishing and trapping rights of Inuit and when applicable Naskapi, visitor activities, environmental conservation and cultural heritage protection (archaeological sites), proposed park boundaries, as well as mineral exploration activities that may take place near parks.

In September 2020, the KEAC took part in special consultations on Bill 46, An Act to amend the Natural Heritage Conservation Act and Other Provisions. In general, this bill is welcomed by the KEAC to the extent that it will accelerate the process of creating protected areas and broaden the range of tools for protecting natural environments. In addition, it introduces the obligation to consult Indigenous communities separately when the circumstances require and to accommodate them when necessary, and it will allow more flexibility to delegate powers to Indigenous communities.

Québec national parks

Following up on a process that began with the identification and allocation of territories for parks at the beginning of the 1990s, four national parks have been created in Nunavik:

The KEAC produced position papers prior to the creation of three of these parks. It in particular has recommended that care be taken to harmonize proposed visitor activities with existing subsistence activities and that visitors be informed prior to their arrival that they will be venturing through traditional lands used by Inuit and Naskapi for hunting, fishing and trapping. The KEAC also recommends that measures be implemented to prevent mining projects near national parks where they might disturb the integrity of the territory.

Plan Nord territory

The KEAC continues to be involved at different levels of consultations concerning the commitment of the Government of Québec to ensure environmental and other protections over 50% of the Plan Nord territory by 2035.

Position paper – Government commitment to dedicate 50% of Plan Nord lands to environmental protection, maintaining biodiversity, promoting natural heritage and a variety of types of development that do not rely on industrial activities (November 2011)