The northern Quebec famous whitewater river becomes the first natural place in Canada to be given a person’s status legally. The Magpie river was given legal personhood by the local Innu council together with the municipality of Minganie.
According to a Montreal organization, the river’s fame makes it a best test case for Canada’s idea. As a person, the river will have nine distinct rights and can be provided with a guardian, mostly the people close to the river.
Rivers being treated as a legal person has been a popular idea in New Zealand, where groups and the federal government have created personhood status for the river. The Whanganui River was the first-ever case of the river being given legal status through legislation in 2017.
According to an International Observatory on the Rights of Nature President who is based in Montreal. the idea of granting rive rights is not just about protecting the river. It also makes it known that humans are not the masters over nature, especially when the relationship between the environment and humans is complicated.
Apart from New Zealand, Canada, Ecuador, and the U.S. have also used the same idea to protect the environment. In the U.S., Toledo’s people passed a resolution to declare Lake Erie a person after toxic algae were found in the lake, making the water undrinkable.
The Magpie River is 300 kilometers long and is a known destination for whitewater lovers. It is also ranked among the top ten whitewater rivers. Despite that, the river has been suggested to be protected for it could be used for hydropower. However, Hydro-Quebec insisted that there is no project planned in the foreseeable future despite the prospects.