Years ago, dam-builders came to develop the vast hydroelectric potential of the remote James Bay region of northern Québec. They called the region barren because it had no agriculture and was sparsely settled by indigenous people who lived off the land. When those people, the Crees, found the dam-builders changing their land without permission, they fought back. They won some court battles but were overwhelmed by the political and economic forces that were driving the big project. Still, the Crees succeeded in getting the governments and companies behind it to agree to meet some of their needs for social and economic development, and the project went forward.
But the governments failed to honor the agreements. When the dam-builders came to build another big project, the Crees organized an effective campaign that combined court action with international public information. Five years and millions of dollars later, the dam-builders canceled the project.