Cold, Spread Out, Far...and Brilliant! How Native Peoples and Northern Remote Communities Change Transport Planning

Cold, Spread Out, Far...and Brilliant! How Native Peoples and Northern Remote Communities Change Transport Planning


L Ampleman, Jagiellonian University, PL; D Blais, Ministère des Transports du Québec? Rouyn-Noranda, CA


This paper intends to present the experience of Northern Quebec where Native Peoples have contributed to improve solutions in term of sustainability and access to remote communities. Four concrete examples of projects will be provided.


"Can small and remote local communities influence main decision-makers in transport? Do their specific transport needs and conditions of implementation of transport projects make them only exotic or conversely, do they provide a unique opportunity to learn from them and change our vision about transport planning? This article intends to present the experience of Quebec and more specifically Northern Quebec where collaboration between political decision makers and Aboriginals (Cree and Inuit) remote communities can be regarded as an excellent learning laboratory about sustainability issues and transport governance in general. What can be learned from the situation?

In the province of Quebec (Canada) the majority of the population lives in the vicinity of the St. Lawrence River. In contrast, the Northern part of the province has a very low population density. Thus the region of Nord-du-Quebec, the largest of the 17 administrative regions of Quebec (55% of the land area), comprises less than 1% of the total population of the so-called ? Belle Province?. Despite this situation, this region has a significant network of land, sea and air transport. However, it is worth mentioning as an example that even today, some northern communities are not linked by land transport infrastructures to the main agglomerations of the south of the province where air and sea transport play a unique role and where ATV transport acquires a meaning that goes beyond the normally recreational character of this means of transport. Also, contextually, two dimensions make the planning and transport interventions challenging in this specific region.

Firstly, in human terms the presence and active communities scattered throughout the territory implies the availability of an access network maximizing the mobility of people and goods on a vast area. One feature of this network is to unsure access and mobility of indigenous peoples (Cree, Inuit, Naskapi) present for millennia and representing a significant critical mass of the regional population and still practicing subsistence activities outside the market economy. Secondly, at the sociopolitical and economic level, the region has experienced significant growth over the past 40 years. Hydroelectric developments, deployment of the mining and forestry industries, and the rise of outfitters have had their impact on the nature of transport networks. This situation has enhanced the complexity of transport planning and exposed some conflicting points of view regarding local priorities among stakeholders.

For years, a significant part of decisions regarding the implementation of projects, management of networks and transport services in remote communities of Quebec was under the responsibility of both the central government of Canada and the province of Quebec. For many Northerners, the decision centres remain located away from ?the? field and regional stakeholders who really know the local needs and issues. Although Canadian and Quebec governmental bodies still play a major role in transportation planning, several events have allowed local actors, including the Cree and Inuit, to increase their role in the planning, management and implementation of transport projects.

This paper has three aims. Initially, the authors would like to offer a quick historical portrait of the transport situation in the remote communities of Nunavik and James Bay during the last 40 years. In a second step, they intend to identify the political, legal, economic and socio-environmental changes that have occurred during this period. Finally, the article aims to highlight how Native Peoples have contributed to a new vision of transport planning and improved solutions in term of sustainability and access to remote communities. To illustrate these changes, the authors will provide 4 concrete examples of projects completed, ongoing and future: i) the maritime infrastructures of Nunavik; ii) the management and maintenance of local airports, iii) the project of construction of new land access to Kuujjuaq, iv) the Airfare Reduction Program to isolated communities."


Association for European Transport