Two Cree entities are moving to a community near you this spring. The Cree Trappers’ Association is relocating to Eastmain and Cree Construction is moving some of its headquarters staff to Mistissini.
The moves follow requests made at several Annual General Assemblies that Cree entities move to Iyyuuschii.
CTA president Edward Gilpin said all that remains is to find money to pay for the move. “We have all the buildings there already. Right now, we’re just seeking financial support. We always anticipated we would move. It was just a matter of timing and when we were ready to do it.”
The CTA, now headquartered in Val d’Or, will soon meet with Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come to discuss the financing. CTA board members are scheduled to meet in Eastmain on Feb. 20. Gilpin hopes to sign a lease that day for the office and housing.
The CTA also plans to study how its fur sales could be run from its new location. Gilpin doesn’t anticipate-a problem since most Cree fur is sold to private buyers, not auction houses. This means sales can hopefully be arranged as easily from Eastmain as Val d’Or.
Moving to Eastmain are at least six CTA staff. Two people will be hired locally: an accountant and a secretary.
Cree Construction president Steven Bearskin has not returned repeated calls, but we were told by CREECO’s Sydney Ottereyes that five to nine staff are moving to Mistissini this spring: the president and the accounting services. Local people will be hired to fill most of the accounting jobs, as the existing staff didn’t want to move from Montreal. Staying in Montreal are about 20 other company employees. Bearskin is now the only Cree of 28 staff at the company’s office.
IN OTHER CTA NEWS, Edward Gilpin said the CTA is getting ready to pressure the Canadian and Quebec governments to live up to funding obligations under the James Bay Agreement.
For the past 20 years, only the Cree side has funded the CTA adequately, while the other two governments have fallen steadily behind. Neither government has increased its contribution in any significant way since 1975, said Gilpin. This means that, with inflation, their contribution is far below what it was 20 years ago, even though the workload of CTA staff has increased dramatically.
“We were always considered as just another sports association,” said Gilpin.
The CTA will meet with government representatives in March to discuss funding.
Also coming up is a consultation tour of the Cree communities by CTA staff in mid-February or March. The tour is intended to provide information and get feedback on a wide variety of issues: the European fur ban, the goose population, etc. Also: what will happen to the James Bay Eeyou Fund, which provides a supplement income to trappers, in the year 2001, when responsibility over it is transferred to the communities.