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Despite injunctions demanding their removal, protesters from several First Nations have continued to maintain a blockade of La Vérendrye Wildlife Reserve.
The injunction was requested by ZEC Petawaga, the Hunting and Fishing Association of the region.
The injunction, granted by the Quebec Superior Court, was issued as protesters set up increasing numbers of blockades and checkpoints into the wildlife reserve. The protesters say that they are enforcing their own moratorium on hunting after the government has ignored their concerns about what they claim to be a declining moose population.
Following the injunction police demolished two of the barricades. The largest one, however, remains standing. According to ZEC Petawaga secretary-treasurer Jean-Marc Bélanger, the majority of hunters have been able to get through to the wildlife reserve, but the road still being blocked is the shortest and has been a nuisance for hunters.
Protesters say they are seeking to save the moose, and with it, an important aspect of their culture. They have also suggested that a moratorium on moose hunting would be good for hunters, as the moose population would increase, leaving more for future hunters.
"It's because our ancestors thought about the next seven generations. They thought about us, that's why we have what we have today," argued Gene Twenish, one of the checkpoint guards. Another protester stated that their protest is "for everybody, not only for ourselves. We are protecting it, not only for us, it's for everybody."
Aerial surveys suggests that the moose population of the territory has declined by one-third since 2008. While the Quebec Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks claims to have issued 30 percent less permits, they do not believe the drop to be significant enough to justify a total moratorium, let alone for five years as protesters have suggested.
Other protesters suggest that their rights are being violated by the injunction. According to Shady Hafez, one of the protesters who has camped at the site of one of the blockades, "they're just hunters and fishers and somehow their needs overtook our jurisdiction and our rights." Protesters claim their constitutional right to hunt within their territory is being violated by individuals who are merely granted the privilege to do so by the government.
According to the protesters, the injunction was not translated into English and many of them could not read it.
Chief Dylan Whiteduck of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, one of the protesting nations, further defended the blockades, stating that "I know the Algonquin people are doing the right thing."
Bélanger, however, welcomed the court's decision, stating that "no one can block a public road" and that "[it] was important for ZEC to have our rights recognized. ZEC Petawaga has signed a memorandum of understanding with the department of wildlife to ensure access to the territory under our management."
The Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks says they will be reimbursing hunters who could not make use of their permits due to the blockades.