La Presse is at it again.
The newspaper printed a lengthy opinion piece on April 27 that breaks new ground in the popular Quebec pastime of native-bashing.
The article in question was written by “media consultant” Henri L. Comte, and is entitled: “Bipolarization of Cree society: radicals in the north, moderates in the south.”
Comte has made a real discovery here. It will-even be news to many Crees. Apparently, there is a “more or less clean cleavage” down the middle of Cree society between the rabidly anti-Hydro northerners and the Hydro-lovers of the south.
Unfortunately, Comte’s evidence for this is a bit skimpy. He cites the fact that Waskaganish would like to go into business with Hydro-Quebec to recycle gas. Also, there is the suspicious fact that Waskaganish abstained in the vote on opposing the Great Whale River Project at the last Grand Council assembly.
But why they abstained we never find out. That’s because Comte only spends two paragraphs of this rather convoluted article on the “cleavage” issue. Then we’re onto a completely new topic—all the bad publicity that Quebec gets in other countries. And who is to blame for this? You guessed it: the Crees.
Comte is still upset about an article printed last November in National Geographic, which took Hydro-Quebec to task for its abuse of the Crees. Comte complains that this article “folklorises-valorises” (whatever that means) the Cree traditional way of life.
Of 19 photos accompanying the article, 16 show traditional activities, two show dams and, horror of horrors, only ONE PHO-TO shows a “modem” Cree house! Would Comte be happier if there were photos of Crees with cellular phones and portable faxes flying off to Europe and Cree kids playing Nintendo?
“I am sick and tired of hearing about the 10,000 dead caribou,” Comte confided to The Nation. He said Quebecers should wake up and smell the coffee.
They are under attack. “People don’t know how Quebec is negatively perceived abroad,” he said, adding that foreigners are spreading lies about Quebec.
But when asked where he got his information about the “cleavage” between northern and southern Crees, Comte became flustered. “It’s from, uh, it’s from, how do you say, it’s a tentative explanation,” he said. “I’ve been observing Mukash quite a bit. I find him radical to a certain degree.” But when pressed, Comte appeared not to know there are also radicals in the south as well as moderates in the north. “Of course I was taking a chance,” he said. “I’d like to find out more about this.”