The work in James Bay is under way, with the EM-1 hydroelectric project along the Eastmain River. It has been an idea of Hydro Quebec’s since the before the signing of the James Bay Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA) in 1975, which made references to it under Section 8.1.2. With the signing of the Peace of the Brave, under section 4.7, this gave the go ahead to Hydro Quebec to begin the project with the Société d’energie de la Baie James (SEBJ).
Under the new agreement, Quebec was to ensure that Hydro Quebec form partnerships and joint ventures with Cree enterprises, as well as enter into agreements with the Crees. There were stipulations in the Peace of the Brave that details regarding employment and contracts would be set out in the Nadoshtin agreement. The Nadoshtin agreement of 2002 provides for the implementation of various environmental measures with a view to reducing the impact of the project on the Crees. The Crees of Eastmain, Mistissini, Nemaska and Waskaganish are chiefly involved in the project.
There are over $2 billion in contracts for the EM-1 project in total. Contracts totaling $300 million have been set aside exclusively for Cree enterprises that can successfully meet the requirements of the contract. Hydro Quebec, the SEBJ and the Crees also have a deal under the Nadoshtin Agreement to set aside $30 million for different funds to benefit the Crees affected by the project. These include the Remedial Measures Fund, the Archaeology and Cultural Heritage Fund, the Eenou Indohoun Fund, the Wildlife Management Fund, a Training Fund, and an EM-1 Mercury Fund.
To date, $150 million in contracts have been handed out, without including purchases of goods and services. The biggest calls for tenure are coming up in May, June and July of this year. These include a contract worth $105 million for the construction of the main dam and one for $80 million for the construction of the dyke. The Cree Construction and Development Company of Mistissini and its joint ventures with other Cree-owned companies, have managed to secure over $70 million in contracts handed out thus far, including the construction of the permanent access road. If the proposed EM1-A project goes through, there will then be another $290 million in contracts set exclusively for Cree companies. These negotiated tenures aside; Cree companies are not prevented from pursuing other public tenure contracts, available for everyone who qualifies, to bid on.
The EM-1 project is located on the Eastmain River, upstream from the diversion of the La Grande complex. The major components of the project are the powerhouse, the main dam, the spillway and the dyke, with another 30 dykes required to close off the reservoir. A transmission line will link the powerhouse to the Namaska substation, with a permanent access road between the two. The powerhouse will have 3 generating units with a capacity of approximately 480 megawatts. A temporary camp will be built to house the 2,400 people who will be working on the project over the next few years. It will consist of aqueducts, sewers, electric lines, hundreds of lodging buildings and a gymnasium.