This article was first published by APTN News Canada. It has been republished with permission.
As members of the Algonquin Nation in Quebec enforce a ban on the sport hunting of moose on their ancestral lands, the situation got tense at one road block Thursday.
As one pick up was granted permission to pass, the following vehicle struck one person.
That person was fine after the incident.
Jeff Dorn, a camera-editor with APTN News captured the moment on video and conducted several interviews after.
“We gave a warning last year. Our moose population is down,” says one man at the roadblock to another sitting in a black pick up.
“How many moose do you all kill in a year?” says the man in the pick up in French.
“Whose land is it?” the Algonquin fires back.
“It’s everybody’s land,” he says.
After the exchange, an uneasy compromise is reached.
The man is allowed to pass – but no hunters are allowed to go with him.
“Your hunters can’t go, but you can go if you want,” he’s told.
As the black pick up rolls by the road block – the following silver pick up doesn’t slow when one of the Algonquin supporters is on the road.
“Gene, you alright,” he’s asked.
No one was hurt in the confrontation.
Gene Twenish, the man who was hit said he was expecting it.
“Ah, just the way she was acting, I knew it.”
People here say since the road blocks went up there have been many acts of intimidation.
“We’re just trying to protest peacefully here, and we’re having to run into occurrences like this on a daily basis,” said Dylan Whiteduck, chief of Kitigan Zibi, an Algonquin community north of Ottawa.
“This is unacceptable.”
Algonquin Nations in the Outaouais, an area in western Quebec that covers about 30,000 square kilometres, are currently blocking three access points to their ancestral lands.
Moose hunting season started this week and outfitters and sport hunters are not happy with the road blocks.
“We saw some Indians in the Spring they killed a mother with a baby in it’s stomach, on the side of the road,” yelled a woman in French at the road block trying to get through.
The Algonquins say they have no choice but to block access to their lands.
They say when the closest grocery store is over an hour away, the decline in the moose population threatens their way of life.
“A moose will feed five to six families, just one moose, for the whole year,” says Casey Ratt, chief of Algonquins of Barriere Lake.
“Once the moose are gone, what is there to eat?”
The province of Quebec agrees that there is a decline in the population.
But not severe enough to warrant a total moratorium on sport hunting.
According to the province, 30 per cent fewer permits were issued this year and a 1,200 square kilometre area has been declared a non-sport hunting zone.
A conservation committee was also struck to manage the moose population.
“Quebec has their own agenda and we’re not part of it,” says Charles Ratt, a councillor in Barriere Lake. “But in reality, they have no choice.
“We’re not going no where.”
By Tom Fennario