James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement
In 1971, the Québec government announced the James Bay hydroelectric development project, ignoring the rights of Inuit and Cree living in the James Bay and Northern Québec regions. The two Aboriginal groups were still following a traditional lifestyle, including the subsistence harvesting of land and marine wildlife. Many continue to depend largely on hunting, fishing and trapping for their livelihoods.
On November 11, 1975, the Cree and Inuit of Québec signed the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement (JBNQA) with the governments of Canada and Québec, the James Bay Development Corporation, the James Bay Energy Corporation and Hydro-Québec. Under the JBNQA, the Aboriginal communities of the region exchanged their claims, rights and interests in the land for other rights and advantages stipulated in the agreement. The JBNQA was the first modern land claims treaty in Canada, and established Inuit ownership of lands in arctic Québec. At that time, no other agreement of this scope existed in North America.
The JBNQA contains a multitude of provisions on how the territory is to be shared and the compensation payable to Cree and Inuit. It also protects the traditional rights of Nunavik Inuit and covers a wide range of fields, such as hunting, fishing and trapping, as well as environmental protection, resource management, municipal infrastructure, economic development, education, health and public administration, to name but a few. In addition, a land regime was established for the territory under the JBNQA, dividing the territory into Category I, II and III lands and defining harvesting rights for each category.
Inuit Rights in Nunavik's Parks
The rights of Inuit who are beneficiaries of the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement prevail over park regulations in Nunavik (ex. prohibitions against carrying a firearm, making fires and cutting trees do not apply to Inuit).
Notwithstanding, for safety purposes it is strongly recommended that ALL BENEFICIARIES fill out a registration form at the park visitor centre prior to any park excursion. Inuit visitors are also invited to report all returns from excursions in a park. These actions are not however mandatory.
Special Pricing for JBNQA Beneficiaries
Beneficiaries of the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement (JBNQA) may obtain park services at special rates. Contact staff at the park you wish to visit for more information.
JBNQA beneficiaries are moreover exempt from fees regarding park access.