The Magpie River in Côte-Nord, Que., is the first in Canada to granted legal personhood rights. Photo by Boreal River In a first for Canadians, a river in Côte-Nord, Que., has been granted legal personhood by the local municipality of Minganie and the Innu Council of Ekuanitshit. The Magpie River, (Muteshekau-shipu in the Innu Coet) is an internationally renowned whitewater rafting site, winding nearly 300 kilometres before emptying into the St. Lawrence. The river has one hydroelectric dam managed by Hydro-Québec, and environmental groups have long sought a permanent solution to protect the river from further disruption. It is unclear how this will affect attempts to build developments on the river, including dams, moving forward, as legal personhood for nature doesn’t exist in Canadian law and could be challenged in court. Minganie, Innu council and several environmental groups — collectively called the Alliance — hope international precedents set in New Zealand, Ecuador and several other countries will help pressure the Quebec government to formally protect the river. “This is a way for us to take matters into our own hands and stop waiting for the Quebec government to protect this unique river,” explained Alain Branchaud, executive director of the […]

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