Photo of the Month: 25th anniversary of 1st North American Temperate Forest Conference & preview of 2019 Forest Convergence

Cree Trapper Tent w/ moon during the First Whapmagoostui major gathering of Cree, Innu and Inuit Indigenous Peoples. It was photographed by Orin Langelle in 1993 during a documentary expedition with Anne Petermann to the James Bay region. The expedition investigated the impacts on the Indigenous inhabitants of HydroQuébec’s (H-Q) existing hydro-electric dams on the La Grande river, as well as their resistance to future planned H-Q dams on the Great Whale (Whapmagoostui) river. The expedition was part of an international campaign that ultimately stopped H-Q from damming the Great Whale river in Northern Québec, Canada. The findings of the expedition were reported at the North American Temperate Forest Conference in Burlington, VT that year.

“People have to think more holistically about their actions. Everything comes down to ‘how much money can I make from this.’ Until this changes, all this talk of environmental protection is bullshit.” Cree Helen Atkinson in Whapmagoostui, Québec, Canada 1993

THEN:

The First North American Temperate Forest Conference

The conference took place from 11-14 November 1993 in Burlington, VT (Ndakinna – Abenaki territory). Over 400 people attended. Dr. David Suzuki and Anishinabe activist Winona LaDuke gave the keynotes on Friday and Saturday. Eighteen Indigenous representatives of First Nations, including Lil’Wat, Mohawk, Algonquins, Great Whale (Whapmagoostui) Cree, Inuit and Abenaki, shared knowledge with the forest movement.

The conference was organized by Eastern North American Native Forest Network co-Coordinators Anne Petermann and Orin Langelle. The NFN was founded at the First International Temperate Forest Conference in Tasmania (AUS) in 1992. Please see Native Forest News article at the bottom of this post.

The First North American Temperate Forest conference helped increase awareness within the forest movement of Indigenous Peoples’ views on the meanings of forests; some calling forests home. The conference provided space for dialogue to build and broaden strategies of resistance and alliances. Because the conference highlighted the situation with Hydro-Québec’s (H-Q) continued attempts to build mega-dams on sovereign Cree and Inuit territories, plans were made for an international day of action on the 50th anniversary of H-Q the following April (1994).

H-Q did not have a happy anniversary. Protests took place across the globe. The state of New York then cancelled their H-Q contract, and, along with mounting opposition by Cree and solidarity activists internationally, H-Q put their Great Whale Project “on ice.”

See the full post at PhotoLangelle.org

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