JBACE 2017-2018 Annual Report

In 2017-2018, the Cree, provincial and federal governments’ legislative and regulatory agendas were particularly busy and the JBACE commented several major legislative environmental revisions from all levels of government.

The JBACE reviewed the By-Law respecting the Protection of the Environment proposed by the Oujé-Bougoumou Cree Nation, and the By-Law concerning the Quality of Drinking Water proposed by the Cree Nation Government. In both cases, the Committee welcomed the initiatives but wanted to ensure that the by-laws were aligned with the provisions of the JBNQA. The JBACE also noted that continued discussions between these Cree administrations with the provincial and federal governments also allow for the effective implementation of the by-laws.

The JBACE sent an advice to the Eeyou Istchee James Bay Regional Government regarding the drafting of a regional plan for integrated land and resource development. In its advice, the Committee underlined the importance of collaboration between stakeholders on the Territory. Indeed, this advice followed another advice sent the previous year regarding the development of the public land use plan. 

The JBACE commented on the revision of Quebec’s Environment Quality Act. The Committee wanted to ensure that the changes made will have no negative impacts on the environmental and social provisions of the JBNQA and recommended that the new authorization regime should offer more transparency.

The Committee also provided comments on the Ministère de l’Énergie et des ressources naturelles’ (MERN) draft Aboriginal Community Consultation Policy for the Mining Sector. Again, the JBACE recommended that the final version of the policy should be revised to more clearly account for the provisions of Section 22 of the JBNQA and outline the Section 22 environmental and social impact assessment procedure. The MERN also published its guidelines in the area of social acceptability, and the JBACE responded positively, reiterating the importance of providing guidance regarding public participation and social acceptability best practices for the James Bay Territory.

The JBACE developed a new approach, based on two review parameters, for its review of the draft tactical plans for integrated forest management for the period 2018-2023 that will occur in the upcoming year. The JBACE also provided comments to the Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs’ draft consultation policy on sustainable forest management, noting that the guiding principles are consistent with those outlined in a JBACE report on public participation that was published in 2015. The JBACE suggested that the Hunting, Fishing and Trapping Coordinating Committee should be given the opportunity to comment on the consultation policy.

The JBACE drafted comments regarding Bill 132 – An Act respecting the conservation of wetlands and bodies of water. The Committee noted that the bill was focused on wetlands and bodies of water located in southern Quebec and that it should include guidelines adapted to the protection of habitats in the region covered by the JBNQA.

In 2017-2018, the JBACE provided comments in the context of the revision of two important federal environmental laws. The JBACE commented on the revision of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 to ensure that the Government of Canada ensures coherence with the elements of Section 22 of the JBNQA And maintain the previsions providing more opportunities for Indigenous and public engagement and consultation during the environmental assessment of development projects. The Committee reiterated its position regarding the “one-project, one-assessment” principle, if it’s in accordance with the 2010 Quebec (Attorney General) v. Moses decision regarding differences between the environmental and social assessment process from the JBNQA and the federal process. The JBACE also submitted its comments regarding the revision of the Fisheries Act. Here, the Committee expressed its opinion that the Act should be refocused on the protection of fish and fish habitat rather than on fisheries. The JBACE also recommended that the revision of the Act should seek to ensure greater transparency and afford more opportunities for public participation.

Issues covering more than one jurisdiction
The JBACE commented on the federal government’s proposed national recovery action plan for woodland caribou and on the provincial government’s woodland caribou recovery planning. In its comments, the JBACE underlined the importance of collaboration and communication between these governments and the Cree to ensure that the recovery plans will be adapted to the particular situation in the Eeyou Istchee James Bay Territory. The Committee also evidenced its concerns regarding cumulative effects and recommended that these be taken into consideration in the development of these woodland caribou recovery plans.

Increasing JBACE’s knowledge
The JBACE continued its work on climate change by commissioning a report on the state of knowledge in the Eeyou Istchee James Bay Territory. The said report was submitted to the Committee and will be disseminated in the coming year.

JBACE operations
Finally, the 2017-2018 year was also highlighted by several initiatives to improve and further support the JBACE’s own operations. The Committee focused on restructuring the Secretariat, on developing work tools for its members and personnel, and on the preparation of a new Strategic Plan for the 2018-2023.

For more information, click here to download the JBACE 2017-2018 Annual Report.

A summary version of the Annual Report in Cree is available here.