The $15-million-dollar deal between the Crees and Quebec has come under criticism again. This time by Dr. Ted Moses, Cree ambassador and federal negotiator.
“I believe that, as drafted, it raises a number of serious concerns,” wrote Moses.
Moses was critical of part of the deal that says the Crees agree to sit down with Quebec and review every Cree entity, with a view to streamling some and abolishing others (see p. 24 for full text).
Moses wrote that Cree institutions are fundamental to Cree well being. “It is Cree who will establish Cree priorities, and not the government,” he said (see p. 25).
“How am I, as the Cree/federal negotiator, supposed to negotiate increased funding and recognition for the Cree entities, while at another table, the Crees and Quebec are discussing the elimination of the same entities I am mandated to strengthen?” he asked.
The list of Cree institutions to be reviewed includes the Hunters and Trappers Income Security Board, Cree Board of Health and Social Services, Cree School Board, all Cree municipalities, the environmental committees covering the Cree territory, the Hunting, Fishing and Trapping Coordinating Committee, the CTA and others.
It was this list that was the topic at a Cree School Board meeting last week. It was also a topic of concern for the Cree Health Board.
Cree provincial negotiator Chief Billy Diamond was quick to respond.
In a letter to James Bobbish, Director General of the Cree Health Board, Diamond writes,“It is, of course, clear on the Cree side that no entitywould be subject to any such review
unless there was a Cree Nation consensus that changes had to be made.” Diamond reassured Bobbish that Quebec understood this as well.
Diamond added that it was an opportunity for the Board to expand or change its mandate if it wished.
Moses took the deal to task, questioning why Crees would sit down with Quebec to review their own institutions without doing so within the Cree Nation first.
He asked where the res pea was for “our own Cree Nation government?” He wrote Quebec would never agree to discuss the elimination of its own institutions with the Crees.
Diamond responded by writing that the system proposed in the deal is to make “recommendations on issues — not aaion on issues.” He also said nothing will happen without Cree agreement that the entity should be reviewed (see Diamond’s letter on p. 27).
Diamond wrote that Moses was “tilting at windmills — there is a danger here that does not exist… Nothing – nothing – nothing happens without the Crees and their institutions consenting. In faa, this is the opportunity for the Crees to strengthen and give effect to Cree Rights — and indeed to raise them to a higher level.”
In his letter, Diamond confides to Moses “there are those who will be against my agreement with Quebec — not matter what it says and what it contains.”
In the letter Diamond blames advisors and says: “WE must decide what is best for our people.”He charges, “We have advisors and Cree bureaucrats thinking only of
their own gains and not the Cree Nation.