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Work to extend Highway 138 on the Lower North Shore – The Québec government grants the Innu Council of Unamen Shipu $31 million for the construction of a bridge over the Rivière Washicoutai

Press Release

QUÉBEC CITY, June 5, 2024 – The Québec government has signed an agreement providing for the payment of $31 million to the Innu Council of Unamen Shipu for the construction of a bridge over the Rivière Washicoutai. The announcement was made today by the Minister Responsible for Relations with the First Nations and the Inuit, Ian Lafrenière. The signing of the agreement is part of the work to extend Highway 138 on the Lower North Shore, and more specifically the road segment between Kegaska and La Romaine.

The project to extend Highway 138 aims to link communities on the Lower North Shore to each other and to the rest of Québec between Kegaska and Vieux-Fort. Another key objective is to improve services to local communities and reduce their isolation. Almost 5,000 residents live in the region’s five municipalities, one unorganized territory and two Indigenous communities.

This major project includes construction work that will be completed in collaboration with the Indigenous communities concerned, allowing them to play a role in land development. The aim is to promote employment for local workers and generate economic benefits for the region.

The government signed a framework agreement for this purpose with the Innu Council of Unamen Shipu in 2021. The agreement led to the start of construction work on the segment between Kegaska and La Romaine. The new agreement announced today, and the funding it provides, will allow the construction of a bridge over the Rivière Washicoutai in a sector where the geographical, physical and environmental conditions are particularly challenging.

Quotes:

“The signing of this agreement will lead to the successful completion of a complex infrastructure project with the collaboration of our Indigenous partners. The construction of a bridge over the Rivière Washicoutai represents a crucial step that will meet the needs of the Indigenous communities on the North Shore and contribute directly to their socio-economic development. The community’s members are extremely proud to be working at last on this new link.”

Ian Lafrenière, Minister Responsible for Relations with the First Nations and the Inuit

“I am delighted to see this agreement with the Innu Council of Unamen Shipu. It was a priority for the community, and our government has not disappointed them! This agreement will make possible the construction of a bridge over the Rivière Washicoutai.”

Kateri Champagne Jourdain, Minister of Employment, Minister Responsible for the Côte-Nord Region and Member for Duplessis

“Today’s announcement marks a key step in the development of the community of Unamen Shipu. It allows both nations to look towards the future. Building a bridge together is a powerful symbolic act, and it is a privilege to continue the efforts of everyone who has previously worked to develop Highway 138. The progress made in the lead-up to this announcement will benefit not only the members of my community, by making road travel safer, but also all Lower North Shore residents and, by helping grow the economy and tourism, all members of society.”

Raymond Bellefleur, Chief of the Community of Unamen Shipu

For further information: Source: Maxime Tardif, Press officer, Cabinet of the Minister Responsible for Relations with the First Nations and the Inuit, Phone: 819 444-7064; Information: Medial relations, Direction des communications, Ministère du Conseil exécutif, Phone: 418 781-9520, medias@mce-sct.gouv.qc.ca

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