Quebec environmental group plans to fell tree on Mount Royal in protest against clear-cutting on traditional aboriginal and provincial park land in Outaouais and Abitibi-Témiscamingue regions

MONTREAL , August 24, 2012 () – A group of environmentalists is staging an unusual demonstration on Mount Royal on Friday at noon to raise awareness about clear-cutting on traditional aboriginal and provincial park land.

They're planning to cut down a tree.

The group, which is part of a solidarity network called SOS Poigan, says this will be the first of many actions.

"It's an urgent, familial human drama," said Vincent Dostaler, media liaison for SOS Poigan. "We know it seems contradictory for these people who so respect the trees to be cutting one down, but there's a sympathetic element you can understand here: (Montrealers) care about Mount Royal and do not want to see the trees cut because it's part of their identity. - So you can imagine what clear-cutting is doing to devastate communities whose livelihood is in the forest."

Dostaler said the event is slated to begin in front of the Georges-Étienne Cartier monument.

"In Quebec, there are laws against logging in federal, but not provincial parks," explained André Binette, a lawyer working pro bono with La Vérendrye communities that are attempting to stop logging companies from destroying their natural habitat, which straddles the Outaouais and Abitibi-Témiscamingue regions.

Binette estimated roughly 100 people continue to live traditionally on the land all year round in the region, and said he sees a "chronic problem" of displacement and deforestation when forest companies are given contracts to cut.

A city of Montreal spokesperson, Renée Pageau, told The Gazette it is the city's understanding that the event will be symbolic, but that anyone breaking park bylaws could face a fine.
Gabrielle Korn, from Les Amis de la Montagne, an advocacy group promoting the preservation of green space on the mountain, said SOS Poigan gave their organization a courtesy call earlier this week about today's event and that she also believes the tree cutting will be symbolic.

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