Government for the people by the people. This is the theory of democracy and why we should vote. We vote to choose candidates who will represent us. In fact, the Crees take the theory of democracy just a little farther when we choose delegates once a year to send to the Grand Council/CRA Annual General Assembly.

During this time, we look at the past actions of the GCCQ/CRA and ratify them. The Cree delegates also do something else that is very important They pass mandates, resolutions and give direction to the GCCQ/CRA that will affect our future. In this way the people exercise greater control over their government through a process of democratic rule.

But are all the mandates and resolutions carried out? I know of one that hasn’t been. Some readers might remember one of the earlier stories I did when we started The Nation entitled, “Where have all the ethics gone?” This article was about a mandate given to the GCCQ/CRA to develop an ethics guideline within six months for Cree Band Councils, organizations and entities and the people who work within them.

Six months passed and a draft was drawn up but strangely it never made it back to a GCCQ/CRA Annual General Assembly. That was in 1989. And now in 1995, I imagine the ethics guidelines are lying on some dusty shelf forgotten but waiting for the mandate to be fulfilled.

I personally feel that these guidelines are important for the Cree future.

Our population is growing fast There will come a time when Crees will not know each political candidate or person within a Cree Band Council, organization or entity personally. This is why we should work now to ensure we have policies and controls in place.

Also there are many non-Cree consultants and workers within Cree organizations and entities. Most don’t fully understand Cree needs and Crees may not really understand what they may be capable of because of misunderstanding or deliberate intent I’m sure that 99.9 per cent of these people are as honest as the day is long but what about that .1 per cent? It would be good to have ethics guidelines that reflect not only our culture but also ensure fewer misunderstandings or abuse of Cree needs.

An ethics guideline would also help Crees wearing more than one hat (i.e. in more than one organization) by letting them know what the Cree people as a whole consider appropriate behavior. There are many potential conflicts of interest inherent in this practice of having more than one position per person. Ethics guidelines would help to eliminate possible abuse or misunderstandings.

The Cree people wish to address these problems and are starting to do so on their own. In Waswanipi an inquiry into potential conflict of interest has been voted upon and ratified by the people at a general assembly.

These are just a few of the reasons why Crees as a whole should act now with preventive measures to ensure control of the Cree Nation’s future.

While most draft copies of the ethics guidelines are lost in the backrooms, I happen to have one in my possession which I’m more than willing to share with any delegate to this year’s GCCQ/CRA Annual General Assembly for their consideration.