Sometimes it hurts to hear people still arguing over the Paix des Braves deal. I know it’s hard to let go when you feel an injustice has been done. But let’s look at the way it’s developed in the three-and-a-half years this agreement has been a part of our lives.
I know the revenue-sharing portion this year was a disappointment, especially when we note that Hydro-Quebec took $1.9 billion in profits this year, after giving the Quebec government $1.2 billion or so in dividends (hidden tax, my non-Native friends?). Almost half those profits were generated from Eeyou Istchee, as were almost all of the sales to the United States. Therefore, probably $2 billion in profit came just from that source. That’s 2,000,000,000 compared to 1,500,000. That’s .075 per cent revenue sharing as far as we can see at the Nation. A far cry from the whispered promises of tens or hundreds of millions Cree proponents have hinted at.
But this is a done deal, my friends. We should not cry over spilled milk. If you do it long enough the milk goes bad and all you are left with is a rotten smell in your nostrils.
Let’s look at what we can do to make our future better. The Rupert River is still on the chopping block and the longer we cry about the “paying of the braves,” the less chance we will have to save it.
Sound a call to arms, just in time for this year’s elections, for a worthy Cree cause. Save a river today. Save Ouje-Bougoumou from the heavy-metal mining toxins. Stop the squatters in Eeyou Istchee. Stop a pig farm in Chapais. Stop an artillery range near Waswanipi. Stop suicides in all our communities. Help make the Cree Nation diabetes epidemic a thing of the past. Encourage more Cree high school graduates in every community. Help create a viable and vibrant Cree economy so our money doesn’t just flow out of the communities. Submit a resolution at the GCCEI/CRA Annual General Assembly saying there will be no more secret negotiations or that Crees will have a minimum of a year to consider any agreement affecting the Crees in the long term.
When you look at it, this is just the short list of things we need to do to make our futures our own again.
Once again I will say never forget the injustices of the past. One only has to look at the Grand Council file on the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement to see a pattern. There are over 350 documented breaches of the JBNQA in that file. The JBNQA, though hailed by many as the first “modern” treaty, is seen by some as one of the biggest sellouts by any First Nation since Manhattan was reportedly sold for $24 or so in beads, trinkets and trade goods.
Every deal has good and bad points to it and at times a perceived lack of desire to fully implement it. You could just look at the fact that the forestry regime in the Paix des Braves has yet to be implemented, let alone the full implementation of the JBNQA and subsequent agreements.
Yes, let us remember all the injustices and wrongs but at the same time work at nation building.