While it may not be Christmas yet, the Board of Compensation was all about giving this year after they distributed large one-time sums to each of the Cree communities and to several of the entities in the hopes of getting the Cree economy moving.

This announcement was made at the Cree Annual General Assembly in August, but the Nation wanted to look into the matter a little further.

According to the Board’s Jack Blacksmith, for 2012-2013 each of the communities has received $500,000 to go towards economic development. Additional monies were distributed as part of the BOC’s administration fund.

“This $500,000 was originally geared towards economic development. Within our resolution we say that we are not going to determine what economic development means as each community has their own means of determining what is best to help develop their own economies,” said Blacksmith.

In past years, Blacksmith said the BOC would distribute large sums to the communities for capital works projects, like the $9 million handed out over the last nine years. But this year, they had it within their resources to hand out one-time lump sums.

“This was done many years ago. When we looked at the economic development sector, we figured that we could give all of the monies in one shot and give each community $500,000. This $500,000 per community works out to around $4.5 million in total. These are stimulus packages,” said Blacksmith.

The communities will not have to report back to the BOC on these packages. The principal distribution of the funds is based on the same format as the community fund.

In addition to each community receiving a one-time stimulus package, the entities within the Cree Nation also benefited, with the Cree Trappers’ Association (CTA) receiving $300,000. Blacksmith said the CTA in turn redistributed the funds to the individual communities with funding based on per capita needs and for local cultural projects.

According to Blacksmith, the Cree Outfitting and Tourism Association (COTA) was given $300,000 and the Cree Nation Youth Council was given $250,000 for their operations plus an additional $50,000 via the Cree Regional Authority.

The Cree Native Arts Association was given $100,000, the James Bay Cree Communication Society was awarded $81,000 and the Cree Nation Bears organization received $91,000.

For their administration, the Washaw Sibi community was given $86,000 and the Regional Elders’ Council and Regional Elders’ Conference were sent a cheque for $117,000, with Traditional Pursuits getting $125,000 for local cultural projects.