Franklin Countys First News

Letter to the Editor: Hydro-Québec and Québec Indigenous communities are partners in hydropower development

Hydro-Québec and Indigenous communities have developed various partnerships to ensure the communities benefit from economic spinoffs of projects, to preserve different types of land use and to promote the pursuit of traditional activities. Hydro-Québec has signed some 40 agreements with Indigenous nations and communities since 1975 and is a leader among Canadian companies in terms of its extensive relations with these communities.

Using terms like ‘dispossession’, ‘eviction’ and ‘poisoned water’ to describe that relationship– as we have seen in recent letters to the editor – is simply erroneous and ignores the reality of the decade-long relationship that has been established.

Our approach is to meet with potentially impacted groups, including Indigenous communities, early in the project design process. Representatives of Indigenous communities are integrated into project teams and their traditional knowledge taken into consideration in designing the project. We sign Impact Benefit Agreements with these communities to ensure compensation and economic spinoffs. In some cases, communities invest in projects and, in return, receive a share of the profits.

For more information on our relations with Indigenous communities, please see this.

But don’t just take our word for it. On one of our recently completed projects, the COMEX, an independent body composed of members appointed by the governments of Québec and the Cree Nation, performed a thorough follow-up consultation on our of recently completed projects:

“In COMEX’s opinion, there has been very good collaboration between the Cree Nation and the proponent in recent years. In addition, the Committee is convinced that the Eastmain-1-A and Sarcelle Powerhouses and Rupert Diversion Project will have contributed to greater understanding between all the parties concerned, to greater Cree involvement in the development of the territory, and perhaps to empowering them to achieve their long-term economic and community development goals.”

The full report of COMEX is available here.

Over 40 years of collaboration with Indigenous communities have made it possible for Hydro-Québec to use Québec’s hydropower potential to provide reliable, sustainable and competitively priced electricity to Quebecers and export markets.

Let’s not try to rewrite history, let’s look at what has been accomplished and what we can do to play a role in the fight against climate change in North America.

Gary Sutherland
External Relations – Exports and Acquisitions

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10 Responses »

  1. This letter is BS. Only written because the opposition is real.

    You meet with potentially impacted groups???
    Since when??
    You guys either don't show up or you send a puppet that gets caught making insulting remarks on social media (in Jay).
    Remember?? (You're probably not even away of this,,, that's how much you care).
    You may have made certain individuals rich in the indigenous groups you mentioned to bully your way,, corrupt money (bribes) works dermatomes.
    Kinda like Janet Mills.
    Shame on you.

    Keep lying,
    It makes us stronger.
    Btw,, we don't much "care"for you either.

    No Corridor.

  2. Your approach is to meet with potentially impacted groups? I have not seen as of yet, a Hydro-Quebec spokesperson meet with any impacted group here along the Corridor’s path. Just a lobbyist who most likely wishes now that he wasn’t quite so dismissive of the debate in Jay. The debate you folks didn’t attend.

    Tell you what. Why don’t you rectify that situation by agreeing to send a truly knowledgeable Hydro-Québec spokesperson to a debate here in Maine? We can discuss this issue. We have lots of questions too ask.
    We’ll even leave the light on for you. Well, maybe not a light...

  3. ...Nothing to see here folks...move along, move along and return to you homes....Thank You, we will take care of it...move along....

  4. In response to Mr. Gary Sutherland, Let's not rewrite history, let's REMBER history:

    Partnership, an interesting turn of phrase. On November 15, 1973 the Cree won a judgment over Hydro-Quebec in the Quebec courts after 5 months of deliberation. Mr. Justice Malouf ruled that HQ was to:

    a. Immediately cease, desist and refrain from carrying out works, works operations, and projects in the territory described in the schedule of Bill 50, including the building of roads, dams dykes, bridges and connected works.
    b. to cease, desist and refrain from interfering in any way in the said territory and from causing damage to the environment and the natural resources of the said territory.

    This judgement was overturned in appeals court after 5 Justices spent 8 months discrediting Mr. Justice Malouf's original ruling and thus overturning in favor of HQ.

    Hydro Quebec is a provincially owned hydro electric company that has been a making a fortune from the destruction of vast tracts of indigenous people’s land.

    Hydro Quebec has practiced cultural genocide against the Cree and Innu people by the flooding of their food sources, hunting and fishing lands and trap lines.

    The very fish that the Cree depend on as a major food source has been poisoned by methylmercury, a compound made when reservoirs are flooded and which could be avoided by the removal of top soil before flooding. This poisoning became known as “fish disease”.

    HQ has uprooted the Cree from their homelands and subsistence hunting culture and moved them onto small reserves and towns, imposing a consumeristic economy upon them making them dependent on cash, tied them to mortgages and bills preventing them from practicing their ancestral bush culture.

    HQ is a company that blamed God for the drowning of 10,000 of the George’s river caribou when they released water from the Caniapiscau reservoir during a known migration.

    Further information, interviews and court hearings can be found in "Strangers Devour the Land" by Boyce Richardson

    Susan Theberge

  5. Hey Gary, you and Hydro-Quebec can keep your “relations” in Canada! We don’t NEED them, and don’t WANT them here in the state of Maine!


  6. Sutherland’s description of “partnerships” between Hydro-Quebec and Indigenous and local communities doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

    Sutherland points to the 2012 COMEX report about Hydro-Quebec’s “consultation” with the Cree. The report shows Hydro-Quebec was forced by a permit condition to talk to the Cree whose land it would destroy for yet another round of megadam construction. The 2002 permit condition followed almost thirty years of problematic relationships with local communities. In 2011, Hydro-Quebec still had not complied with the 2002 condition, repeatedly tried to be “excused” from talking to the Cree, managed to get two postponements, and was finally dragged to the table by the COMEX panel in 2012.

    Not only did Hydro-Quebec behave badly and have to be forced to consult with the Cree, but the COMEX report details the destruction caused by Hydro-Quebec’s dam building mania. The report contains 72 pages, single spaced, setting out a litany of economic, social and environmental “impacts”– in other words, irreversible damage to human health, the environment, fisheries, caribou, and communities. Methylmercury poisoning, altered river flows, warming waters, depleted salmon and sturgeon stocks, decimation of caribou herds -- the list goes on.

    Sutherland claims all this destruction is warranted and the deals with the Indigenous communities are needed because we must have hydropower to fight climate change. This is a lie.

    Hydropower dams are a climate disaster. For one, they destroy carbon-sequestering forests –a scientific, peer reviewed report out days ago shows the central forests play in fighting the climate crisis and preserving biodiversity. Hydro-Quebec has destroyed 6 million acres. Its’ La Grande megaproject alone destroyed 4,376 square miles of primarily Indigenous lands. Hydro-Quebec’s operations release massive amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas about 30 times worse than carbon dioxide. Hydropower greenhouse gas emissions are not accounted for by state or federal governments or on the international level, and they should be. By the time Hydro-Quebec’s current dam building boom is done, only two of Quebec’s 17 major river systems will remain untouched. More dams are planned.

    There is no way to paper over the scale of Hydro-Quebec’s destruction. This electricity comes with unacceptable social, economic, and environmental costs.

  7. I hope someone has a better memory than me. Back in the 1970's, either we voted on a Quebec Hydro line to Maine to bring cheap power here, or the Maine legislature took up the question. Either way it was turned down. Now it seems its coming thru, maybe, with absolutely no benefit to us. I hope someone remembers the facts.

  8. There are microorganisms trapped behind the damns that wash out with silt on a natural river to feed ocean life. I would be willing to bet this is why our shrimp numbers keep getting cut back. You can google “microorganisms needed for oceans” and it will bring up a number of articles to read on how it changes the ecosystem to changing water temps. Hardly seems hydro is good for our fishing industry or anything else.

  9. Hydro-Québec and Québec Indigenous communities are partners in hydropower development

    gee, that's nice, but what do indigenous communities in the path of the corridor south of the border think?

  10. Ummm, Gary...We have heard from many paid spokespeople during our campaign against the CMP corridor, and we have learned that in every case they are acting in a biased manner, spreading propaganda designed to convinced the uninformed that they can be trusted with their rhetoric. We are not to be so easily fooled by your weak attempt at providing "your side of the story."

    Also, when you say your approach is to meet with impacted groups, I find that quite disingenuous. HQ has been absent from every meeting here in Maine from the PUC to the DEP to 30 other informational sessions including one in Jay a couple weeks ago, where I was under the impression you had agreed to be there. I was prepared to ask you questions about cutting, then flooding large areas of forestland to create huge reservoirs for hydro-power. Reservoirs that displace indigenous peoples, remove oxygen producing trees, emit methane and create methyl mercury issues in downstream communities. Hydro-power done right can be a part of renewable energy. Hydro Quebec is a bully, a profit driven environmental disaster.

    While I am sure you can provide studies, even call them independent, I would like to be able to choose a dozen or so Cree, of my own handpicked means, to testify on their experiences. If you agree to that, I might concede some validity to your paid testimonies and paid for studies.

    Your absence, at every stage of the discussion, tells us everything we need to know.