The Environmental and Social Impact Review Committee (the Review Committee – COMEX) is an independent body reporting to the Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and the Fight against Climate Change. Its mission is to contribute to the protection of human health and the environment and to the economic and social well-being of the peoples inhabiting the territory governed by the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA) that lies south of the 55th parallel.
The Review Committee was created under Chapter 22 of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA), with its mandate being to recommend to the Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and the Fight against Climate Change or to the Cree Regional Administrator whether or not to authorize development projects that are subject to the environmental assessment and review procedure. Where appropriate, the Committee determines the conditions under which a project may proceed, and if necessary, specifies the appropriate preventive or remediation measures.
Thus, the Review Committee analyzes every project that is submitted for review and assessment as prescribed in Title II of the Environment Quality Act (EQA), using the relevant expertise of the governments of Quebec and the Cree Nation. The participation of affected populations, as well as of other individuals and groups, is also an important component of the Review Committee’s approach so that the Review Committee can identify the concerns of the people in the territory, paying particular attention to the traditional knowledge of aboriginal communities.
As part of its mandate, the Review Committee devotes particular attention to the following principles:
a. the protection of aboriginal hunting, fishing and trapping rights;
b. the protection of the social and natural environments;
c. the protection of aboriginal peoples and their societies, communities and economies;
d. the protection of wildlife, the physical and biological environments, and ecosystems;
e. the rights and guarantees of aboriginal peoples in Category II lands;
f. the participation of the Crees in the application of the environmental and social protection regime;
g. the rights and interests of non-aboriginals;
h. the right of any natural or legal person to carry out lawful projects.