Chief Billy Diamond brought some good news to the Council/Board meeting March 19th in Montreal.

The day before, the government of Quebec authorized minister Guy Chevrette to sign the$15-million Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Crees.

In a letter, Chevrette thanks Diamond for “the work you have done during the negotiations.” Quebecalso confirmed by decree the 1997-98 total of $15 million for community-development projects andequipment purchases. In addition, Quebec pledges $196,250 towards the forestry working group,$30,000 for each of the five communities impacted and $46,250 for the James Bay Advisory Committeeon the Environment.

In the March 18 letter, Chevrette said he is ready to meet any time in the “next few days in orderproceed with the signature of the agreement.”

In the Council/Board meeting in Montreal, Chief Diamond was quick to defend the MOU saying the dealis being signed “without prejudice,” a legal term meaning it will not interfere with any Cree courtcases or other negotiations.

He talked about Issue No. 5, which concerns a Quebec-Cree joint review of the regional entities:“I know there is great concern. ” He said the idea and purpose of the negotiations is to get Quebecto respect and fulfill its obligations.

Diamond dismissed the criticisms of the MOU as “lies.”

“These lies are ruled by fear and intimidation and lies within the Grand Council of the Crees ofQuebec and the Cree Regional Authority. These are lies and these same lies are printed in The Nation,”he said. “The idea is for Crees to set the agenda. Nothing happens unless you sit down with Quebec.”

Diamond reassured the entities present.

He said the negotiations forthe 1997-98 projects have been completed and they are now negotiating the1998-99 community projects.

Diamond said this is the first time Quebec has admitted to owing capital-project costs to theCrees and that is an important step. The agreement package is worth $132 million over five yearsreported Diamond.