Lake - Reservoir Manicouagan

Dynamics of the Innu ancestral territory (Nitassinan) through the morpho-sedimentary and socio-cultural study of Lake Manicouagan (Reservoir)

Project start

Main Researcher



The research project aims to acquire knowledge about the ancestral Innu territory (Nitassinan) through a transdisciplinary study of an emblematic ecosystem in Northern Quebec: the Manicouagan reservoir, which is now integrated into a territory designated as a UNESCO biosphere reserve. The objectives of this project are:    

  1. To understand the limnological and hydro-sedimentary dynamics of a large reservoir in a boreal environment. Very few studies have been conducted on such large reservoirs, and even fewer on those located in boreal or subarctic environments. However, in the context of northern development, there is a pressing need to increase knowledge of how they function in order to anticipate the impacts, but also future changes that would result from human actions and climate change.

  2. Assess the morpho-sedimentary and socio-cultural impacts of flooding a former natural lake through the commissioning of a reservoir. Most studies on hydro-sedimentary dynamics within reservoirs concern rivers or small mountain lakes. However, no studies have looked at the morphological impacts of large dams on lake environments. The socio-cultural consequences for resident populations also remain poorly documented.

  3. Evaluate the archaeological potential of the former valley and Lake Manicouagan through the characterization of the physical and human living environments before its flooding. Lake Manicouagan and its hydrographic network were part of the cultural landscape of the Innu, particularly the community of Pessamit. The former historic sites that are now flooded are still little studied, as is the archaeological heritage that remains unexplored on a regional scale.

  4. Reconstruct the physical and cultural landscapes of the ancestral territory since the Deglaciation. The landscape evolution of the territory formed by the Astrobleme and the Groulx Mountains remains little known in comparison with that of more southern regions. The study of morpho-sedimentary records, coupled with the mobilisation of ancestral knowledge, will therefore make it possible to strengthen knowledge of the climatic, environmental and cultural history of the territory before and after its transformation.

  5. Train members of the Pessamit community in research on aquatic environments. The participatory approach between the university and Indigenous communities will promote the transfer of skills and knowledge (ancestral and academic knowledge), practical courses for training in the use of field tools, community knowledge-sharing workshops or participatory mapping workshops. These trainings will enable indigenous partners to collect and analyze data on site autonomously.

  6. Develop knowledge dissemination tools to enhance the value of the ancestral territory and honour the memory of the Innu of Pessamit. The Uapishka Station will be used as a platform for the dissemination of results to support knowledge mobilization by all project partners to promote Aboriginal tourism. It will showcase the Aboriginal heritage and the cultural and environmental knowledge acquired on the ancestral territory during the project. The Station will coordinate the installation of interpretive lookouts near archaeological sites of interest.

The Manicouagan Lake-Reservoir study meets several of the INQ's research objectives related to anthropogenic impacts on the functioning of northern aquatic ecosystems and on indigenous living environments, in this case the disturbance of an Innu ancestral territory by a hydroelectric project. As such, this project responds to the need for fundamental knowledge on the functioning of large reservoirs and their impacts on physical and human living environments in the North.


Réserve mondiale de la biosphère Manicouagan - Uapishka
Innu Council of Pessamit

Research Priorities

Priority 1 - Societies and Culture
Priority 3 - Ecosystem Functioning and Environmental Protection
Priority 5 - Natural Resources
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