Québec City, June 22, 2022 – Minister Responsible for Indigenous Affairs Ian Lafrenière today announced that the Québec government and the Abitibiwinni First Nation have concluded a new agreement, to pave the way for a new relationship between the parties based on openness, partnership, and cooperation. A strategic committee will be established with a mandate to bolster political, economic, and social relations.

The agreement establishes a framework that will facilitate negotiations between the parties on topics of common interest such as protected areas, forestry, consultation mechanisms, and the economic development of the community.

What is more, to promote access by the Abitibiwinni First Nation to economic spin-off stemming from mining in the territory that the community occupies, the agreement makes provision for the payment of a financial contribution to a fund established and managed by the Abitibiwinni First Nation. The parties will pursue discussions to determine other possibilities for the community to benefit fully from economic spin-off from mining activities.

The agreement also calls for the designation as a protected area of the Chicobi sector, promoted by several stakeholders including the Abitibiwinni First Nation. Situated in the heart of the traditional territory of the First Nation, the Chicobi sector is an integral part of the community’s history and culture. The proposed protected area will cover 224.6 km². It seeks, by way of an example, to enhance the representativeness of the network of protected areas, bolster the preservation of four existing ecological reserves, and ensure connectivity between the Parc national d’Aiguebelle, the proposed Esker-Mistaouac biodiversity reserve, and the aquatic reserve planned in La Haute Harricana to the north. 

“The Québec government will step up its dialogue with the First Nations and Inuit to improve its relations with these communities and consolidate the bonds of trust that have sometimes been tested over the generations. The signing of the agreement with the Abitibiwinni First Nation facilitates the attainment of these objectives in addition to engendering significant economic gains for the community. I hope that this marks the beginning of a new chapter that achieves the self-fulfilment and satisfaction of all the signatory parties.”

Ian Lafrenière, Minister Responsible for Indigenous Affairs

“The proposed Chicobi protected area has taken another step today with the setting aside of a vast territory for this purpose. The project has been eagerly awaited, I know. It will benefit the Abitibiwinni First Nation through the preservation of the ecological heritage that the community cherishes. I would like to thank our Indigenous partners for their active participation in the elaboration of the project and the designation of the most fragile sectors that warrant special attention. We have ultimately reconciled the needs of wild fauna and flora with those of neighbouring individuals and industries, which I consider to be a remarkable success.”

Benoit Charette, Minister of the Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change, Minister Responsible for the Fight Against Racism, and Minister Responsible for the Laval Region

“The Abitibi region abounds in natural resources, which can be exploited to generate economic spin-off that benefits all Quebecers. The signing of this agreement with the Abitibiwinni First Nation will certainly facilitate the harmonization of worthwhile development projects with the realities of the Indigenous peoples who live on the territory.”

Jonatan Julien, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources

“This agreement is a further step toward the full recognition of the rights of the Abitibiwinnik. We are proud to be able to contribute to and actively participate in natural resource management in our unceded ancestral territory. I welcome Québec’s response to our request to establish a protected area in the Chicobi sector and to create a mining economic spin-off fund. It is with ambition, confidence, and optimism that I now envisage the future of our relations with the Québec government.”

Chief Monik Kistabish, Abitibiwinni First Nation

Last update: June 23, 2022