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NU Student earns Nuclear-Free Future Award


Award winners

Nipissing University Aboriginal Advantage student Justice Debassige and the Youth of the Cree Nation of Mistissini earned international recognition for their outstanding efforts against uranium development on Cree land at the Nuclear-Free Future Awards (NFFA) in Washington, D.C.

At the event Debassige along with Shawn Iserhoff, Desmond Michel and Kayleigh Spencer accepted the Nuclear-Free Future Award on behalf of the Mistissini Youth.

Debassige, Iserhoff, Michel, and Spencer are from the First Nation community of Mistissini in Northern Quebec. The group first recognized the encroaching danger of uranium exploration when Strateco Resources Inc. began test-drilling in their community for the Matoush advanced uranium exploration project.

The Matoush advanced uranium exploration project was probing on sacred family hunting grounds of the Cree Nation and at the crest of two major watersheds that bring water throughout the area. Debassige and the group took it upon themselves to protect the sacred land.

The group launched a province-wide campaign to educate Quebecers about uranium and about the Cree Nation's opposition to this unique form of mining. They participated at the Earth Day rally in Montreal and hosted the "Together Against Uranium" rally. The group held protests and gained support throughout the community and the Cree Nation, and eventually at the Grand Council of the Crees’ General Assembly in 2012.

At the event, delegates unanimously supported the opposition and adopted a resolution banning uranium exploration, mining and waste emplacement in the area. The company Strateco ended its explorations and left Cree lands.

The Government of Quebec denied the required permit for the Matoush project, due largely to its lack of social acceptability amongst the Cree Nation.

Since the Matoush project, the Cree Nation has been outspoken about its opposition to uranium development. Debassige and the Youth of Mistissini were instrumental in mobilizing the Cree Nation’s stand.

The Nuclear-Free Future Award honors people worldwide who work to create a world free of nuclear power and nuclear weapons. The annual awards show the size and diversity of the global anti-nuclear movement.

Click here for more information on the Cree Nation's stand against uranium.​

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