INM grassroots voice overshadowed by industry concerns.

7th District Mi’gmaq Territory, Listuguj, Qc.

Location along Gospem Road of Railway blockade. (Listuguj, Qc.) Photo: Frank Jr Molley

Listuguj Idle No More (INM) supporters now remain adamant on blocking all railway traffic pending the outcome of the January 11 meeting between Aboriginal leaders and the Harper government.  The decision was made hours after their Monday afternoon meeting with Listuguj Chief and Council and visiting key regional representatives.

Both governmental and municipal stakeholders along the Gaspé region travelled to Listuguj in hopes to appeal freight train passage, citing concerns over their municipal economies.

“The fact is the railway belongs to the municipalities of the Gaspé.  There is a serious impact with the lack of federal funding.  They have a serious issue with being able to get the federal government to pull it’s weight when it comes to supporting the railway and other files as well.  In particular they want to underline that there’s a lot of jobs that are on the line that this railway supports and he has a particular preoccupation with making sure that those jobs and that industry on the railway can continue.”  Said NDP Member of Parliament for Gaspésie–Iles-de-la-Madeleine, Mr. Phillip Toone, translating on behalf of Mr. Bertrand Berger, Président of Conférence Régionale des Élu(e)s Gaspésie–Iles-de-la-Madeleine.

NDP Member of Parliament for Gaspésie–Iles-de-la-Madeleine, Mr. Phillip Toone acts as translator. (Listuguj, Qc.) Photo:  Frank Jr Molley

NDP Member of Parliament for Gaspésie–Iles-de-la-Madeleine, Mr. Phillip Toone acts as translator. (Listuguj, Qc.) Photo: Frank Jr Molley

Mr. Francois Roussy, President of Société de chemin de fer de la Gaspésie (The Gaspé Railway Company) represented the four Regional County Municipalities:  Avignon, Bonaventure, Le Rocher-Percé, and La Cote-de-Gaspé.  The SCFG president went as far as suggesting VIA Rail passenger trains should be blocked instead of the regions freight trains.  The premise expressed was that of no effect on putting pressure on the federal government in terms of blocking the Gaspé regions freight trains.  Freight trains that are owned and operated by the SCFG’s 325 km railway that runs between Matapedia to Gaspé have a lot more to lose regionally in terms of revenue for the four regional county municipalities.  These municipalities benefit from the use of the Gaspé Railway Company.

In the position expressed by the SCFG’s President on their business relation with Temrex, a leading producer of softwood in the Gaspé, further denial of passage hurts Temrex.

“Temrex is a business that is going to be affected by the protests that are being held right now.  And our intentions is to find a solution that will help unblock that but at the same time allow continued protest and in no way stop the justified protest.”  Said MP Mr. Phillip Toone, translating on behalf of Mr. Francois Roussy.

The Quebec government representative,  Mr. Gaétan Leliévre, Parti Québécois (PQ), Minister responsible for the Gaspésie–Iles-de-la-Madeleine, as an act of good faith asked if there is any other way to help present their ideas in another fashion.  One that perhaps benefits everybody that unifies a way of protesting.

Listuguj Mi'gmaq Chief Dean Vicaire (Listuguj, Qc.) Photo:  Frank Jr Molley

Listuguj Mi’gmaq Chief Dean Vicaire (Listuguj, Qc.) Photo: Frank Jr Molley

Incumbent Chief Dean Vicaire stated that the struggle to provide meaningful employment for the people of Listuguj is not only difficult but is also reliant on government to government relationships that can help provide that employment.  He directed his message to Mr. Gaétan Leliévre,

“Two things we’ve been really pushing and working on is first our Wind Farm, it’s a hundred and fifty mega-watt wind farm that the Mi’mgaq of the Gaspésie, Gespeg, Gesgapegiag and Listuguj, are ready.  We are more than ready and you know that.  It’s just a matter of the Minister putting pen to paper and we can participate on that.”  Chief Vicaire said.

The main industry concerns being affected along the 325 km shortline railway was a topic that consumed the majority of the meeting on Monday.  At best, the INM grassroots voice at the table appeared to be overshadowed by concerns of Regional representatives and that of the Listuguj Mi’gmaq Government.  No amount of resolution would be achieved in the amount of time allocated for that day’s meeting, but the message was clear.  The Harper government continues to hurt the people of this region and Bill C-45, if anything, forces the local people here to look to each other as ally’s.  How this would be achieved depends solely on the amount of leverage each one can bring to the discussion table.

Alex Morrison, spokesperson for the INM supporters of Listuguj, directed his attention to Mr. Francois Roussy, President of Société de chemin de fer de la Gaspésie (The Gaspé Railway Company).

(Left) Idle No More railway blockade spokesperson, Alexander Morrison. (Listuguj, Qc.)  Photo Frank Jr Molley

(Left) Idle No More railway blockade spokesperson, Alexander Morrison. (Listuguj, Qc.) Photo Frank Jr Molley

“You want us to help Temrex but what does Temrex do for our community?  Those are our trees that you are cutting in our territory.  We made treaties a long time ago that you guys signed with your ancestors and our ancestors.  The Temrex you are talking about is being fed by our resources on our territory.”  Said Morrison.

Temrex plays a major role in the transfer of wood chips and lumber shipped from the four regional county municipalities and the INM supporters blockade of the railway in Listuguj is having a real impact, not on Temrex, but on the regional municipalities that own the railway along the Gaspésie.  If the option to ship is restricted by train, Temrex can simply ship by transport trailers to their destination plants in Riviere-du-Loup and Gatineau, but at an additional cost.

“Only Temrex is using the train, at this time.  In the summer it is different,” says Temrex general manager, Harold Berube during an interview following Monday’s meeting.

“Using the train to ship our chips is the most [affordable] than by truck,” he stated.

When asked whether Temrex arrived here in Listuguj for the meeting to help in the settlement of the issue with the Idle No More railway blockade, the answer was both “Yes,” and, “No.”

“At this time we’ve had a real difficult period for Temrex too, we’ve lost a lot of money.  We’ve lost $12 million dollars in the last year and a half.”  Said Mr. Berube.

Temrex sells their wood directly to White Birch paper plant.  A company that was the second-largest newsprint manufacturer in North America before filing for bankruptcy protection in February 2010.

With files from CBC/Montreal


4 thoughts on “INM grassroots voice overshadowed by industry concerns.

  1. Peggy Condo January 8, 2013 at 12:59 PM Reply

    I couldn’t agree more with Gary Metallic Sr

  2. Gary Metallic January 8, 2013 at 12:12 PM Reply

    It seems that this meeting was more to accomadate the non native corporate interest than for our people manning the railway protest, its always the same old tune from them, we are inconveniencing them and their bottom line, their profit margins, it was the same message back in 1998. These non native corporate wood harvesters have been extracting our trees for centuries from our territories and their communities getting rich and prosperous while ours remain with very little economic businesses in the wood industry that would employ our people, such as wood mills. Take for example the GDS mill where Im sure not one Migmaq person is employed there, the reason given by Guildo Deschene back during the 1998 in an interview seen on the NFB Documentary Our Natiohood was simply a Racist one, when he said a straight NO and that it would only cause trouble between the non natives and natives working there. Very little has changed since the 1998 Blockade, as a matter of fact things got worse right after it, when our former and some still current politicians and adminstrators still employed by the Band Council, helped themselves by the hard won wood allocations from the Blockade. We saw them buying forest cutting and hauling equipment for themselves, and hogging the allocations and sqeezing out the woodcutter who may have only owned a chainsaw or even a bucksaw to cut some wood to try to support their families with a simple paycheck. We didnt fight and put our lives on the line in 1998 to have these opportunist takeover the lions share of the allocations, it was for the people, these same people are still involved in negotiating with these corporations who are still exploiting our lands and resources for their own needs, the wind mill project is one that comes to my mind, sure they will say that some of our ironworkers are working to put them up. And it may be that some will be trained to be electricians to service and maintain them, but what is not being disclosed is that allegedly there were private contracts given to certain interest parties who are employed by our Band Council, when they should have been open to all of our members, also why didnt the political leadership before allowing for construction of these Mills insist that this Wind Mill Corporation build and setup windmills for our community on our reserve so that we would have our own independent power source and get off the Quebec Hydro Grid. This kind of deal would have been far more beneficial for all of our people than a handful of jobs where 95% of them only last until the wind mills are all erected, we hold the keys before any multi corporation can begin development or construction on our territory, we won this right in the Delgamouk supreme court case in the 1990s where the court said that canada and corporations have a duty to consult with first nations before extracting any of our resources within our territories. The probelm we have here in Listuguj is that were consulted after the fact, by our politicians and negotiators, example are the 64 million settlement, highway construction, bridge approach construction, wind mill project, by inclusion and consultation, we mean that we want to know every step of the negotiation process where it affects our inherent rights to our lands and titles, not in bits and pieces as in their meetings. We want access to those minutes of every negotiating meetings with indian affairs, Quebec on these projects and the especially the 64 million settlement deal which in everyones opinion was done in secret without the inclusion of the Tribal Council who were the original parties in the Busteed court proceedings. The Idle no More Movement has also brought into the light the questionable actions of the indian act systems and how they have treated their people, and that is good for our Grassroots people across the country, our voices can no longer be overshadowed by the Band Councils or their Master, Canada, “The Genie is out of the bottle, and is not going back in where it has been trapped for well over a hundred years”.

    • Cathy Ginnish January 8, 2013 at 1:57 PM Reply

      I agree with Gary 🙂 and for sure the genie is out of the bottle …but to enforce treaty & inherents law the Indian Act (IA) is in the oppressive way & no one leader, organization or government of any kind (PM Harper stated IA is here to stay -deep roots etc) has effectively dealt with IA elimination so that must be dealt with via National IA class action lawsuit starting the IA status artificialized identity etc..imagine the compensation package since 1876 when IA was created!!! Put the govt on a proactive notice for a change to react rather tha us reacting all the time to govts legilative assaults. We can have a trasional govt in the meantime based upon our inherent rights etc than add on resource revenue sharing (environment friendly of course) to move forward…I commend you Gary for your supreme court submissions in USA etc …!

  3. Nora LaBillois January 8, 2013 at 11:28 AM Reply

    by using trucks will give people full time jobs.


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