Our relations

Composition (Blue and Green Landscape) © Niap

Our relations with Indigenous nations and communities are not just a commitment: first and foremost, they are the faces of twenty advisors working since 1985 to build ties and maintain good relations with Indigenous communities.

These advisors also follow up on undertakings specified in agreements we have signed and advise Hydro-Québec’s senior management. They are supported by specialists in many different fields, including the social sciences, biology, law and economics.

Hydro-Québec and Indigenous Communities, partners for over 40 years [PDF 9.19 MB]

Customized mitigation and enhancement measures

Hydro-Québec is committed to ensuring that Indigenous communities can practice their traditional activities on the land. All efforts are thus made to involve the communities from the very first stages of a Hydro-Québec project, and to make sure, through environmental monitoring, that necessary measures to this end are applied.

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The following content is a slideshow of images on customized mitigation and enhancement measures

  • Innu land use – Lac Tam-Tam camp
  • Salmon counting weir installation
  • Atlantic salmon, utshashumek in Innu
  • Romaine-1 generating station
  • Innu land use – Lac Allard camp

Together with the communities concerned, Hydro-Québec develops mitigation measures not only to foster the practice of traditional activities but also to protect the biophysical environment. Here are some examples:

  • The power output downstream of Romaine-1 generating station is adjusted based on the needs of the Atlantic salmon. During the spawning and egg incubation period, for example, an ecological instream flow is maintained to ensure the water level is high enough to protect the nests.
  • For the Romaine complex, funds to facilitate land access were awarded to the Indigenous communities that signed the agreement. These funds were used to build and renovate camps, purchase hunting equipment and cover the costs of land and air transportation to the bush. The Innu community of Ekuanitshit now owns its own helicopter airline (Innukoptères).
  • In connection with construction of the 735-kV Micoua–Saguenay line, the Innu expressed concerns about woodland caribou and about protecting the area the species uses. Hydro-Québec suggested an experimental measure: a connectivity corridor about 9 km long in an area used by the species. In this area, right-of-way clearing will be kept to a minimum and tower height will be at a maximum, to reduce the number of towers required. Our hope is that conservation of the forest environment will promote woodland caribou presence and limit predators.

Positive spinoffs

A key goal of the employment equity program that we launched in 2009 was to increase the Indigenous workforce. Today, we have more than 300 Indigenous employees, many of them Crees and Inuit. A team dedicated to recruitment and retention of Indigenous labor has been hard at work since 2020 to increase Indigenous representation in the Hydro-Québec workforce even further.

Hydro-Québec has also contributed to the development of Indigenous entrepreneurship and generated significant economic spinoffs for Indigenous communities by awarding work and service contracts to Indigenous firms such as the following:

  • Construction Meskano: This Wemotaci Atikamekw firm has been doing road maintenance and repair work and building access roads since 2006.
  • Air Inuit: Air Inuit has been transporting Hydro-Québec employees to Baie-James facilities for more than 30 years, under the largest recurring contract awarded to an Indigenous firm.
  • Gestion ADC: This Cree company has been providing food and housekeeping services for Hydro-Québec workers in the Baie-James region since 1996.
  • Hydro-Québec commissioned the Innu communities of Essipit, Mashteuiatsh and Pessamit to carry out the land use studies for the 735-kV Micoua–Saguenay line project. In addition, an environment committee that includes representatives from all three communities has been formed for the construction phase of this project.

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The following content is a slideshow of images on the positive spinoffs

  • Air Inuit transports Hydro-Québec employees to Baie-James facilities.
  • The camp housing workers building the Micoua–Saguenay line has an Innu name, Uaueiashtan, a first for Hydro-Québec.

The Société des entreprises innues d’Ekuanitshit (SEIE) provides technical maintenance and catering-janitorial services at the Romaine complex. The Ekuanitshit firm, UANAN Experts Conseil, provides professional services in the field of environment and other areas. It was the Romaine complex that led to the founding of this firm.

Video: Beaver trapping on the site of the future Romaine-2 reservoir (in French only)

Video document: https://www.youtube.com/embed/jSHc-0hHaFA
Duration : 5 minutes 2 seconds

Textual transcription of the video Beaver trapping in the power output downstream of Romaine-2

Textual transcription of the video Title of the video

  • 00:00Comment sont fixés les tarifs d'éléctricité
  • 01:05Chaque année, à la fin de juillet ou au début d'août...
  • 03:07...Hydro-Québec présente une demande de modification des tarifs d'électricité...
  • 04:11...à la Régie de l'énergie, un organisme réglementaire indépendant.

In 2020, Hydro-Québec spent a total of $143 million on contracts awarded to Indigenous firms.

Our sponsorships

In recent years, we have provided financial support for a number of initiatives in Indigenous communities. Here are a few examples:

  • Quebec Indigenous science fair
  • Wapikoni mobile
  • Alloprof Atikamekw
  • First Nations Book Fair
  • MIAJA, a gathering focused on Anicinabe heritage organized by Minwashin
  • Annual conference and business exchange day of the Secretariat to the Cree Nation Abitibi-Témiscaminque Economic Alliance

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The following content is a slideshow of images on our sponsorships

  • First Nations Book Fair, 2019 © Nicolas Ottawa / Kwahiatonhk!
  • Wapikoni mobile 1
  • Wapikoni mobile 2
  • Conference 2021 – Energy and Environment in a Nordicity Context, Secretariat to the Cree Nation Abitibi-Témiscaminque Economic Alliance
  • 2018 Québec Indigenous Science Fair – Val D’Or, © Quebec Indigenous Science and Engineering Association (QISEA)
  • 2019 Québec Indigenous Science Fair – Kuujuaq, © Quebec Indigenous Science and Engineering Association (QISEA)

In 2021, Hydro-Québec added an Indigenous languages and cultures promotion section to its Social Responsibility Directive.

Hydro-Québec collection

We began acquiring works of art in the early 1960s, the goal to enhance our premises and support contemporary professional artists. Today, we are more aware of the importance of the representation of Indigenous cultures in our collection. In 2018, our collection of about one thousand works included 39 pieces by Indigenous artists. Since then, we have acquired 11 more works by professional Indigenous artists.

We hope our efforts will give a greater voice to professional Indigenous artists and underscore the vitality of their practice.

Here are some examples of the Indigenous works in our collection:

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The following content is a slideshow of images on our Hydro-Québec collection

  • Niap Composition (Blue and Green Landscape), 2021 Water color and ink on paper 30 x 68,5 cm © Niap

    We often think of Nunavik as a snow-covered, inhospitable and empty land. Two water colors in our collection by Niap, an Inuk woman born in 1986 who grew up in this land rich in plant and animal life, tell another story. Niap paints with water drawn from the Rivière Koksoak, which flows through her native village of Kuujjuaq. According to her, these waters harbor a spirit and choose colors to create their own landscape.

  • Rita Letendre Flamme froide II, 1962 Oil on canvas 130 x 140 cm © Rita Letendre or Socan

    A key figure in Canada’s abstract art movement and recipient of the 2010 Governor General’s Award, Rita Letendre was born in 1928 to an Abenaki mother. This painting combines contrasting elements that Letendre strove for years to finely balance, solid structure and vibrant intensity. There is almost a suggestion of geological activity—an earthquake or a gush of molten lava—an impression fostered by the generous impasto, the spatula strokes and the warm color palette.

  • Mattiusi Iyaituk She-Shaman Wants to Be a Mermaid, 2016 Soapstone, caribou antler, muskox horn, alabaster and China ink 43 x 65 x 15 cm © Mattiusi Iyaituk

    Hydro-Québec owns two sculptures by Mattiusi Iyaituk an artist from Nunavik born in 1950 and appointed Compagnon des arts et des lettres du Québec in 2018. Inlaying soapstone and serpentinite drawn from the earth with organic matter (caribou antlers and muskox horn), as if breathing life into the stone, Iyaituk evokes shamanic metamorphosis. His works tell stories expressed orally for millennia and speak to his desire to share, affirm and preserve Inuit culture.

  • Caroline Monnet Creatura Dada (capture vidéo), 2016 Digital video, 1/3 2 min 55 s © Caroline Monnet

    Creatura Dada is a film without dialogue directed by Caroline Monnet, a multidisciplinary artist of Anishinaabe and French descent born in 1985. The film celebrates six francophone Indigenous women artists from three generations living in Montréal who gather in their elegant clothes to share a feast and enjoy each other’s company. Exuberant, eccentric and full of life, these women are portrayed in all their glory... nothing like the somber and reductive stereotypes generally depicted in the media.