The ancient James Bay Cree tradition of passing an anti-Hydro Development resolution was broken at this year’s assembly in Whapmagoostui.
Ironically, it was in this very same community that the resolution originated ten years earlier. The resolution, usually passed quickly and unanimously at every assembly, went through the test this time. After much debate (Eastmain Chief, Mistisssini Chief) and deliberation it was decided that the resolution would be deferred until a special assembly was held, prompting headlines in the Val d’Or media that the Crees were open to the projects.
Judging by the time spent on the various entities, it seems as though a special assembly is also needed for Cree Health and education services. Emphasis placed by the delegates were on services provided to Crees during this assembly. Past assemblies seemed to focus more on the financial side of the entities. Robert Weistche and Sam Etapp provided the updates for the Cree School Board. Afterwards there was a question and answer session for them. The Washaaw Siibii Association was there to remind people that they were still around and still needed the
support from the people. Chief John Kitchen and Sam Etapp updated the assembly on the forestry issues. They wanted an interlocutory injunction on the forestry case and informed the assembly that the Mario Lord case could take 5 to 10 years. Glen Cooper summed it up with the question of how would one feel if someone came into your house and started taking stuff from your home. “How would you feel if they took your bed?…”
The financial health of the entities was less of a focus than during the Assemblies of past. In fact the focus or theme of the Assembly didn’t really get around to being discussed. Cree Government, maybe we need a special assembly for that also. Perhaps more assemblies are needed for the Crees to help govern their affairs. Whenever people spoke they were ever mindful of taking too long lest they get cut off by the chairperson. This put a stress on people and many probably did not get to say what they wanted. There were even entities that didn’t even make it on to the agenda.
One comment that I recall from a conversation with Joseph Pepabano, Elder from Chisasibi, “if we don’t stick together, we will scatter like caribou after being shot at.”
Check out the resolutions on page 12