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Cambrian and Nachicapau lakes region

The Cambrian and Nachicapau Lakes region is located some 250 km northwest of Schefferville, in northern Quebec. It covers 5 740 km2 and is located in the heart of the traditional territory of the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach.

An irreplaceable territory for the Naskapi

Mobile dunes, subarctic hardwoods, large marshes, marl lakes... the Cambrian and Nachicapau Lakes region is home to an exceptional diversity of ecosystems. Located in the Labrador Trough, the region's distinct geology has supported the establishment of unique plant communities, making it a geologically and ecologically remarkable site.

There are also populations of golden eagle, peregrine falcon, and harlequin duck (eastern population), as well as several threatened plant species.

This magnificent territory is also home to sites of irreplaceable value to the Naskapi, who have occupied it for thousands of years. This is especially true of Waskaikinis (also known as Fort McKenzie), a former Hudson's Bay Company trading post and a key meeting place for the Naskapi (1916–1948). Today, they still regularly visit this territory to hunt, fish and recharge.

Naskapi elders and the community at large identify the Cambrian and Nachicapau Lakes region as a priority area for protection. Mining activity is currently prohibited in part of the area surrounding Cambrian Lake. However, a dam project could compromise the area’s protection. In anticipation of the energy needs of potential mining developments in the Labrador Trough, Hydro-Quebec and the Quebec government want to keep open the option of harnessing the Caniapiscau River that crosses this land. A dam would flood the Waskaikinis site.

Key information

Irreplaceable heritage site for the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach

Exceptional region in terms of biological diversity

A partnership to advance conservation

The Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach, the Government of Quebec, Hydro-Québec, the Makivik Corporation and the Kativik Regional Government recently signed a special conservation agreement for the Cambrian and Nachicapau Lakes region. Through this agreement, all parties are committed to identifying alternatives to hydroelectric development, thus allowing for the protection of the Cambrian and Nachicapau Lakes region while meeting future energy needs.

CPAWS Quebec and the Naskapi Nation join forces

CPAWS Quebec is working with the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach to raise awareness of this exceptional territory and assure its protection. In the summer of 2020, CPAWS Quebec joined with community members, anthropologists and potentially biologists to document the ecological significance and cultural values that a protected area would conserve forever.

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This project is supported by Environment and Climate Change Canada.

© François Léger-Savard


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