Thirty years have passed since Cree leaders dissatisfied with the Indian Brotherhood’s assistance in the fight against the La Grande Complex created the Grand Council of the Crees. It was created so that the Cree would have a political arm and voice in dealing with the different levels of government in Canada as well as Crown Corporations and their provincial equivalents. Since then it has taken on new roles, becoming the national Eastern James Bay Cree government.
The road has always been a rocky one with both the federal and provincial governments fighting the full implementation of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement. To date there have been over 350 breaches of the Agreement. Thirty years later the Agreement still hasn’t been implemented while the dams have put billions into federal and provincial coffers.
Still, the theme of the 30th AGA for the Grand Council was to protect and serve. I mentioned to a police officer that this was close to their motto of to “serve and protect.” At times Cree leaders must have felt like police as they battled bureaucracies and exploiters.
Grand Chief Dr. Ted Moses talked about the past and how much of a difference there has been in the Cree world since the Grand Council was created. Control over education and health has been in Cree hands. Grand Council Executive Director Bill Namagoose says that the message Moses was delivering was one of hope. “We changed minds and ways of looking at things. After the Great Whale fight, Hydro-Quebec was looking at smaller projects and sustainable alternatives,” said Namagoose.
He might have been almost prophesying as Freddy Jolly and Roger Orr came walking into the AGA on Wednesday afternoon. They walked along with others from Nemaska to Wemindji to Save the Rupert River. The trip was hard on Jolly and his diabetes. At one point he had to go to a clinic because of complications. I have to admire Jolly. He keeps coming back year after year trying to stop the degradation of his trapline. You can see it pains him to see anything happen to it and that the pain is very real. He and Orr talked about the need for the river, the Crees’ well-being and energy alternatives.
The AGA was good in that they gave him and Orr as much time as they wanted to talk. It was a sign of respect for what they had done.
The GCCEI/CRA AGA seems to be very open to varied ideas this year.
Chief Robert Weistche of Waskaganish proposed an Eeyou Istchee Commission on Energy. The Commission would look at exploring alternative energy approaches. In the resolution they call for each community to implement a home energy conservation program. This is a great idea considering the high cost of electricity for communities so close to the La Grande Complex. Chief Josie Jimikin of Nemaska threw in his total support behind the resolution. It perhaps, was one of the more interesting moments in the AGA.
Our condolences go out to Waswanipi. During the AGA Frank Happyjack passed away and the Waswanipi delegation headed home to honour the passing of this much respected Elder. Mistissini lost some of its delegates as a child was close to passing on. Our condolences and prayers to the family.
A memorial service and laying of a headstone was held in Wemindji for the late former Chief Walter Hughboy. It was well attended and appreciated by those who couldn’t make to his funeral. You could see that the community misses the man who made such a mark on the Cree world.
As with past annual general assemblies, we at the Nation will be looking at the various Cree entities annual reports in later issues.
The volunteers and workers should be commended for their work. Wemindji, as usual, was a great host for this year’s AGA. The caribou stew, spun goose, oven goose, fried white-fish and other traditional meals were great. My thanks to the Wemindji School Principal for finding such a great place to stay. Thanks to Cornelius for taking this reporter in from the cold and showing that Crees aren’t the only ones who are hospitable in the far north.
Draft Resolutions Only
SUBJECT: EEYOU ISTCHEE COMMISSION IN ENERGY AND SUSTAIBLE DEVELOPMENT
WHEREAS Eeyou Istchee is being subjected to development activities in various sectors such as Forestry, Mining, Tourism etc.
WHEREAS the Cree Nation has committed in the development of resources in Eeyou Istchee based on sustainable development.
WHEREAS the new relationship agreement between the Cree-Quebec contemplates construction of the Eastmain 1-A Rupert River Diversion Project;
WHEREAS this agreement also contemplates Cree participation in every stage of the Eastmain 1 -A Rupert River Diversion Project:
WHEREAS the Cree-Hydro-Quebec feasibility Study Group, or Boumhounan Committee, consists of Cree, Hydro-Quebec and SEBJ representatives;
WHEREAS Hydro-Quebec is the proponent and has an obligation to satisfy environmental standard and Cree concerns;
WHEREAS for this reason, Cree traditional knowledge of the land and Cree cultural practices may not be taken into full considerations;
WHEREAS the Cree-Hydro-Quebec Feasibility Study does not take into consideration alternative approach to energy power sources;
BE IT RESOLVED:
THAT the Feasibility Study of the Eastmain 1-A Rupert Diversion, including the issuance of authorization certificates, permits required for the implementation of the project be delayed;
THAT each Cree Community implement home energy conservation program at the local level for the purpose of reducing the negative environmental impacts caused by electricity consumption.
THAT the Cree Nation through the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou lstchee}/Cree Regional Authority create and establish an Eeyou Istchee Commission on Energy to explore alternative approaches to generating energy that is more environmentally safe and friendly in Eeyou Istchee;
SUBJECT: FUNDING REQUIREMENTS OF C.T.A.
WHEREAS C.T.A. has submitted a budget proposal for fiscal year of 2004/2005 to Council/Board requesting a total sum of six million dollars from the Cree/Quebec relations agreement of 2002;
WHEREAS the matter of sufficient funding for C.TA’s operations, programs and capital projects was brought up at the CRA/GCCEI 2004 Annual General Assembly;
WHEREAS C.T.A. is a legal obligation not only from the Government of
Quebec and Canada but from the Crees under Section 28.5 of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement;
WHEREAS the importance of preservation of Cree culture, values, traditions and Cree way of life has been discussed at every Assembly;
WHEREAS it is of great importance that the C.T.A. receives sufficient funding to carry out its mandate and programs set out in the J.B.N.Q.A ;
WHEREAS one of the objects of the Association (C.T.A.) is to preserve the Cree values, culture, traditional and hunting, fishing and trapping way of life;
IT IS RESOLVED:
THAT the CRA/GCCEI is hereby mandated to seek ways to increase funding for Cree Trappers Association to carry out its mandate under the terms of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement.
SUBJECT: THE NEED TO PROTECT AND PRESERVE THE CREE WAY OF LIFE OF HUNTING, FISHING AND TRAPPING
WHEREAS when the JBNQA was signed in 1975, it was the trappers who made the biggest sacrifice by giving their consent for the hydro development projects to go ahead;
WHEREAS the construction of the James Bay hydro electric development projects, and other development on Eeyou Istchee, have greatly diminished the exercise of hunting, fishing and trapping activities;
WHEREAS whenever Cree monies are distributed for various purposes within Eeyou Istchee, activities related to trapping are often considered least important and consequently the CTA, in its attempt to promote and preserve Cree way of life, is never adequately funded;
WHEREAS the CTA is currently developing a Trapper’s training program that will benefit the Youth and an opportunity to protect and preserve the Cree way of life of hunting, fishing and trapping;
BE IT RESOLVED:
THAT the delegates to the GCCEI/CRA Annual General Assembly hereby support the efforts of CTA to protect and preserve Cree way of life; and mandate the GCCEI/CRA Council/Board to consider providing the necessary funding for this initiative;
THAT the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) Cree Regional Authority Council/Board seriously considers reviewing and increasing the funding level allocated to CTA an annual basis.
SUBJECT: ELECTION BY-LAWS
WHEREAS the members of the 2004 Annual General Assembly of the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou lstchee)/Cree Regional Authority have received proposed amendments to the election by-laws;
BE IT RESOLVED:
THAT the members of the 2004 Annual General Assembly hereby adopt the proposed amendments and mandate the Council/Board to seek amendment to Bill 25 to change term from three (3) to four (4) years. SUBJECT: HOUSING SECTION 95
WHEREAS the Cree Nation presently has a severe housing shortage which is now reaching crisis levels.
WHEREAS the Federal Government continues to reduce the already inadequate financial resources it provides to address the National Aboriginal housing needs.
WHEREAS the CMHC Section 95 housing program restrictions, especially the maximum unit cost, does not take into consideration the high cost of construction in Northern remote areas.
IT IS RESOLVED:
THAT the CRA/GCCEI be mandated to initiate discussions with CMHC and/or INAC, on behalf of the ten Cree communities, for the purpose of modifying the Section 95 CHHC program to better suit Cree actual costs and conditions.
THAT the CRA/GCCEI be further mandated to initiate discussions with CMHC or INAC for the purpose of harmonizing the two different CMHC programs and seek other amendments or change program administration.
SUBJECT: REQUEST FOR FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR THE PERSERVATION OF EENOU/EEYOU CULTURE AND LANGUAGE
WHEREAS the Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute, has a vision statement to actively preserve Cree Cultural and linguistic distinctiveness and to reclaim the ways of our ancestors through programs and collections that preserve the true understanding of Eenou/Eeyou Traditional Culture;
WHEREAS Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute, seeks to renew the Eenou/Eeyou system of values and belief that derive with special relationship of the land and to adapt services to contemporary realities;
WHEREAS Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute, has as its foundations the concept of Aanischaa, which refers to a bridging or continuity to ensure that traditions, knowledge and values are passed on from generation to generation;
WHEREAS Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute, plans to promote and preserve the Eenou/Eeyou Language to linguistic research and providing language courses;
WHEREAS Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute, is committed to protecting Eenou/Eeyou Culture, Traditional Knowledge and Heritage and to facilitate a transfer of the Eenou/Eeyou Knowledge from the Eenou/Eeyou Elders to the Eenou/Eeyou Youth;
WHEREAS Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute, is a multi-purpose Cultural Institute, which will bring all regional cultural programming in Eenou/Eeyou Istchee in order to promote a dynamic and effective approach to providing cultural services to the Cree Nation;
WHEREAS Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute, commits itself to providing support to the development of local cultural initiatives with the work of Cultural Coordinators of each Eenou/Eeyou community;
WHEREAS since the modern development of Eenou/Eeyou Nation there has been limited resources allocated for the enhancement development and promotion of the Eenou/Eeyou culture and language and in order to safeguard Eenou/Eeyou heritage for future generation, the Cultural Coordinators of the Eenou/Eeyou communities together with the Board of Directors of Aanischaaukamikw;
IT IS RESOLVED:
THAT substantial financial resource from Eenou/Eeyou monies for Eenou/Eeyou
Culture and language preservation be set aside under a special fund.
THAT the time has come with the construction building of Aanischaaukamikw in the Spring of 2005 that adequate financial support be provided for local cultural development with the proper technical support.
SUBJECT: IMPACT ON GREAT WHALE RIVER
WHEREAS the Great Whale River was and continues to be impacted by the La Grande Complexe;
WHEREAS the impact on the Great Whale River has always been minimized ignored or denied by the parties involved in the development of the project and by those parties who were involved in the allocation of funds for remedial and mitigating works;
WHEREAS the land user and community members of Whapmagoostui have never received recognition, redress, compensation or mitigating funds for the impact of the La Grande Complexe on the River that runs in front of the community and through its traditional lands;
IT IS RESOLVED
THAT the members of the Grand Council of the Cree (Eeyou lstchee)/Cree Regional Authority Annual General Assembly hereby mandate the Council/Board of the Grand Council of the Cree (Eeyou lstchee)/Cree Regional Authority to recognize the impact of the La Grande Complexe on the Great Whale River and take this impact and the historic denial of impact into consideration whenever there is discussion on the allocation of remedial and or mitigating measures funds for hydro-electric development;
THAT the members of the Grand Council of the Cree (Eeyou lstchee)/Cree Regional Authority Annual General Assembly hereby mandate the Board of Directors of the Niskamoon Corporation which has been created to manage access to remedial and mitigating measures funds to recognize the impact of the La Grande Complexe on the Great Whale River and take this impact and the historic denial of impact into consideration whenever there is discussion on allocation of funding.
SUBJECT: OPPOSITION TO PIG FARM
WHEREAS the Cree Nation having met of the 18th day of August, 2004 in Wemindji, Eeyou Istchee, and having duly constituted a quorum at its Annual General Assembly;
WHEREAS the Economic Development Corporation of the Town of Chapais, Quebec has proposed the establishment of a large-scale production and transformation facility for pork products;
WHEREAS the proposed location of the above mentioned project is on Category III land traditionally occupied by Waswanipi hunters and trappers;
WHEREAS the proposed project would also affect the traplines within the traditional territory of the Ouje-Bougoumou Cree Nation;
WHEREAS the water source in the area of the proposed location of the project provide drinking water for the Cree hunters, trappers and fishers in the area and therefore could affect the livelihood of Cree hunters;
WHEREAS it has been noted that similar projects elsewhere have been found to have a significant negative environmental impact, especially in respect of contamination of groundwater and odour pollution;
WHEREAS all the Cree communities in proximity to the proposed project are additionally concerned about the impact such a project may have on their local tourism plans;
WHEREAS the proposed project has been submitted to the Comité d’examen (COMEX) who may recommend that construction of the facility be approved;
WHEREAS consultations have been undertaken among the affected Cree communities, the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay and a group of concerned citizens in the Town of Chapais;
BE IT RESOLVED:
THAT the Cree Nation, through its Annual General Assembly, hereby expresses its opposition to the establishment of a pork production and transformation facility on the Category III lands of the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee, and
THAT the Cree Nation hereby directs the Grand Council of the Crees to take any and all measures necessary in opposing such project and protecting the rights of the Cree Hunters and Trappers, and
THAT the Cree Nation hereby directs the Grand Council of the Crees to work in collaboration with the Waswanipi First Nation, the Ouje-Bougoumou Cree Nation, the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay and concerned non-Native residents of the region in opposing the proposed project.
SUBJECT: WHAPMAGOOSTUI ACCESS ROAD
WHEREAS Whapmagoostui is the only Cree community without an access road;
WHEREAS the other communities of Eeyou Istchee have supported the members of Whapmagoostui in the past in their pursuit of an access road;
WHEREAS the community of Whapmagoostui is seeking to develop a local transportation network involving all terrain vehicles, marine vehicles and automobiles to assist in the pursuit of traditional activities;
WHEREAS the Government of Quebec is in the process of developing a Transportation Plan which touches the traditional lands of Whapmagoostui;
IT IS RESOLVED:
THAT the members of the Grand Council of the Cree (Eeyou lstchee)/Cree Regional Authority Annual General Assembly hereby express continued support to the community of Whapmagoostui in the pursuit of an access road;
THAT representatives of the Grand Council of the Cree (Eeyou lstchee)/Cree Regional Authority are hereby mandated to seek inclusion and prioritization of a Whapmagoostui access road in the development of the Northern Quebec Transportation Plan.
SUBJECT: VAL D’OR CHAPLAINRY
WHEREAS there are members of the Cree Nation who find themselves in Val d’Or for educational, medical or other purposes;
WHEREAS there is a need for an Anglican Chaplainry in the City of Val D’Or to serve the Native population;
IT IS RESOLVED
THAT the members of the Grand Council of the Cree (Eeyou lstchee)/Cree Regional Authority Annual General Assembly hereby express support for the establishment of the fore mentioned Chaplainry. SUBJECT: CREE CHIEFS MEETING
WHEREAS each community is increasingly faced with more complex issues that often affect other Cree communities;
WHEREAS in order to better understand the extent and impact of these issues, the Cree Chiefs wish to hold meetings to support each other in order to maintain a collective voice when dealing with these complex issues; BE IT RESOLVED:
THAT the delegates to the GCCEI/CRA Annual General Assembly support and mandate the Chiefs to hold these meetings in Eeyou Istchee in order to maintain a collective vision when dealing with complex issues.