What a difference a decade can bring.

That’s how long it’s been since the Grand Council/CRA Annual General Assembly was last held in Waskaganish. That was also the year The Nation first covered the event for its inaugural issue. According to the story that appeared in the magazine, Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come considered it “the best general assembly he was ever at.” I wonder what Coon Come would have thought of version 29 had he bothered to attend.

There were questions whether the assembly would be held in Waskaganish at all, after it had been postponed due to the untimely death of Ted Moses’ son. The reason being Waskaganish didn’t have enough room for the visitors but maybe Mistissini did. Then someone asked if there was guarantee of enough security.

Security was embarrassingly high this time around. The championship firefighting team of Waskaganish had sentries guarding all four entrances to the gymnasium. What if there had been a fire? The Waskaganish police force was, for some reason, out in force in the play area overlooking the assembly hall. And then there was the squad of four SQ officers from nearby Matagami. So, a very rough estimate counting the other security that arrived for and with Premier Jean Charest, close to 40! Or one cop for every three delegates.

Paranoia begets paranoia, I think. I felt like I was under surveillance when I walked into the meeting and I hadn’t had anything stronger to smoke than Benson & Hedges. Several delegates and guests also said they felt like they were being tailed.

What was the reason for all this paranoia? Could it be that it was nearing the anniversary of 9/1 I? Could it be that they were expecting a replay of the Paix des Braves signing fiasco? Of course the reason they would probably give is that the premier was com ing to visit for only the third time in Waskaganish history.

Not many seemed to know when, or if Charest was coming at all. Deputy Chief Paul Gull said Charest had cancelled because of planned protests. Apparently he had been joking because the next day Grand Chief Moses asked the assembly “not to do anything” that would jeopardize his “bringing more for the Crees” when the premier arrived. He did not elaborate on what he meant by “anything” or “more.”

But we weren’t the only ones left clueless. When asked whom they were waiting for with their welcome banners, one school kid said, “the police.”

Finally the man arrived. We could tell because a motorcade with a police vehicle had its lights flashing as it approached the building. Premier Jean Charest and Grand Chief Moses got out to walk among the school kids present to welcome them. By the time Charest made it into the building he had expanded his Cree vocabulary to two words (watchiya and meegwetch), which greatly impressed the gathering.

If anything, Charest’s visit was merely a photo-op for the Grand Council and a chance for Quebec to say that, yes, the Paix des Braves is a good deal for us, thank you very much.

Some delegates had grumbled that the Premier’s visit would waste valuable time the Crees had to ask questions and discuss issues important to them. As it was, there was no question/answer session scheduled for Cree delegates. But there was a conference for, at the most, four members of the press, not including myself (I didn’t bother attending).

The premier did promise, however, 50 housing units for Cree Health Board staff but there was no word on the much- rumoured “big health deal” and absolutely nothing on the fate of the Great Whale River. But when cornered on his meeting with the Makivik Corporation on Great Whale, he lied and said Great Whale wasn’t on the table. Yet. So maybe he wasn’t lying when he said he would help save the river.

On his way to the press conference the premier was offered a taste of Waskaganish River smoked whitefish. He seemed to take to the taste but he recoiled and almost brought it all back up when a taste of fried fish roe and intestines was offered.

I was looking back 10 years in the Nation at Alex Roslin’s story of a visit from another Liberal, Christos Sirros. The story applies just as well now as it did back then when you replace Sirros’ name with Charest.

“He came, he saw, and he left everyone scratching their heads. Charest flew all the way to Waskaganish to deliver a vague speech filled with nice ideas about co-operation and partnership. A typical sentence went like this. ‘Both sides have devoted the effort and resources needed to create a climate of trust and establish a solid basis for dialogue and mutual frankness.’ But behind the rhetoric were some alarming signals on Great Whale.”

Maybe a decade doesn’t bring that much difference. That wise man was probably right when he said, “time doesn’t change, it’s just the names that change.”


Resolution No.: 2003-08 RE: Treatment of Patients

WHEREAS the rate of diabetes has increased substantially in the Cree communities since 1978;

WHEREAS the control and management of this disease will require a large amount of human and financial resources; WHEREAS this disease already caused social upheaval such as family separation, isolation and loss of livelihood and culture; WHEREAS it is a known fact that care and treatment is far more effective when it is administered in the patient’s familiar surroundings and with family;


THAT the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay make every effort to provide hemodialysis or other treatment in the home community of patient and not to separate the patients from their community, families, and loved ones;

THAT the MSSQ be directed to provide the necessary funds through the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay; THAT the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay be directed to treat this issue as a priority in its strategic plan. Proposed by:: Chief Robert Weistche

Seconded by: Ashley Iserhoff



Resolution No.: 2003-09

RE: Review of the Social Services policies and procedures

WHEREAS the policies and procedures of the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay related to Social Services required review to reflect cultural values, traditions and customs; WHEREAS the said review should reflect the grassroots perspective and active participation of community members to deal with the social problems we face at the community level;


THAT the local working groups be established in each community to review and revise social services policies and procedures. THAT the CBHSSJB and the Local Working Groups review and revise the social services policies & procedures in consultation with the Cree Communities;

Proposed by: Larry House

Seconded by: Edward Georgekish



Resolution No.: 2003-10

RE: Establishment of a Cree Language Commission

WHEREAS the people of Eeyou Istchee historically embodied the World View of coexisting with the Earth, and with all life on this planet;

WHEREAS and inherent in the Cree (Eeyou) language was the knowledge, wisdom, and importantly the spiritual teachings; WHEREAS traditionally the language and culture was passed down from generation to generation;

WHEREAS the colonization of the Eeyou has resulted in the disruption of the natural evolution of the Eeyou socio-economic, cultural, linguistic, spiritual development, and so forth; WHEREAS the Eeyou has to continue this linguistic and cultural development in the context of the modern world;

WHEREAS the establishment of a Cree Language Commission is necessary providing a forum to continue such development; THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED:

THAT the CRA/GCCEI, together with other Cree Entities do all that is necessary to establish the Cree Language Commission; THAT the CRA/GCCEI together with the other Cree entities set up a Task Force to develop a specific mandate for the Cree Language Commission;

THAT the Kuuhkumich Language Project Coordinating Team be mandated to implement this present decision of the members of the present annual general assembly.

Proposed by: Dennis Georgekish

Seconded by: Robbie Dick Sr.



Resolution No.: 2003-11

RE: Political Recognition of the Washaw SIBI Eeyou

WHEREAS the Washaw Sibi Eeyou have recently elected their first Chief and Council;

WHEREAS the Washaw Sibi Eeyou have democratically decided that their Chief and Coucil will now assume a political role and represent the unique interests of the Washaw Sibi Eeyou within Eeyou Istchee and in all matters involving other governments; WHEREAS the elected Chief and Council of the Washaw Sibi Eeyou have begun to exercise authority over the traditional territories of the Washaw Sibi Eeyou and wish to bring such territories within Eeyou Istchee;

WHEREAS the Washaw Sibi Eeyou, acting through their Chief and Council, have requested that the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou lstchee)/Cree Regional Authority formally express its support for their development and self-determination as a Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee;


THAT the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou lstchee)/Cree Regional Authority recognize the Washaw Sibi Eeyou, represented by their elected Chief and Council, as a Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee; and

THAT the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou lstchee)/Cree Regional Authority shall support development and self-determination of the Cree Nation of Washaw Sibi;

THAT the Washaw Sibi Eeyou will hold consultations with all the Cree communities to inform them of their position and aspirations. Proposed by: Sidney Coonishish

Seconded by: John Shecapio Blacksmith

Action: CARRIED with Four (4) Abstentions


Resolution No.: 2003-12

RE: Special General Assembly on Social and Cultural Impacts of Development

WHEREAS the Cree Nation has felt the social impact of rapid hydro, forestry and mining development over the past 30 to 50 years;

WHEREAS the Cree Nation culture, way of life, identity and traditions have been altered forever by these developments; WHEREAS the Cree Nation has attempted to deal with these impacts through its various entities it has established pursuant to the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement;

WHEREAS today the Crees are faced with the proposed Rupert River Diversion project;

WHEREAS the Cree Nation needs to deal, discuss and contemplate possible remediation, assess social impact of development and healing measures that can be adopted and put into place for the benefit of all its citizens;


THAT a special general assembly be organized within the next nine (9) months in Chisasibi and funded by the Cree Nation.

Proposed by: Eddie Pachano

Seconded by: Chief Robert Kitchen



Resolution No.: 2003-13

RE: Federal Relations

WHEREAS the Grand Chief acting on behalf of the Grand Council and Cree Nation has made a proposal to the Federal Government to have Federal Obligations implemented by transferring the necessary resources to Cree Government in order for the Cree Government to carry out these functions;

WHEREAS this proposal would be similar in nature to the Paix des Braves which defines a new relationship with Quebec; WHEREAS the Federal Government continues to deny, minimize and adopting measures to cap and terminate its obligations contemplated in the JBNQA;

WHEREAS the Cree Nation cannot negotiate the termination of its Treaty, tax exemption or alter the trilateral fiscal arrangements concerning education, police, health or community operation and maintenance;


THAT the Cree Nation through this general assembly request the support and intervention of the Premier Ministre of Quebec and Quebec Government in the Crees’ efforts to have Canada recognize and respect its rights contemplated in the JBNQA; THAT the GCCEI be mandated to make every effort to prevent the Federal Government Cabinet from making a unilateral interpretation of Cree rights and benefits as contemplated in the JBNQA.

Proposed by: Chief Edward Gilpin

Seconded by: Lance Cooper



Resolution No.: 2003-14

RE: Support to the Whapmagoostui First Nation

WHEREAS the members of the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istche) and the Cree Regional Authority has presented three members resolutions of the Whapmagoostui First Nation for support on Whapmagoostui First Nation Traditional territory North of the 55th Parallel, Northern Isolation and Cost-of-Living, and Application of Benefits from All Agreements;


THAT the members of the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istche) and the Cree Regional Authority hereby give support to the Whapmagoostui First Nation

THAT Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istche) and the Cree Regional Authority be and are herby mandated to do all things to give effect to the foregoing.

Proposed by: Chief Robert Kitchen

Seconded by: Chief Robert WEistche



Resolution No.: 2003-15

RE: Site of next Annual General Assembly


THAT the Annual General Assembly 2004 of the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) and the Cree Regional will be held in the Cree Nation of Wemindji.

THAT Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istche) and the Cree Regional Authority be and are herby mandated to do all things to give effect to the foregoing.

Proposed by: Daniel Mark-Stewart

Seconded by: Johnny T. Georgekish