Remember Jean Chretien’s much-publicized $2-billion job-creation program? Few people in this country need jobs more than aboriginal peoples, but natives are getting only one per cent of that money.
After the $20 million is divided up between the regions, native peoples in Quebec were left with $1.5 million. Of that, Ottawa says the Cree portion is $520,000, despite an unemployment rate of 50 per cent, according to Bill Namagoose, executive director of the Grand Council of the Crees. Namagoose chaired a meeting of band operations directors and treasurers in Montreal from April 5 to 7, where the job-creation fund was discussed.
Namagoose said that Cree band councils have put in bids to have job-creation projects funded under the Liberal jobs program. But the total value of these projects is $3.9 million—six times more than what Ottawa has set aside for the Crees. Federal officials are now trying to figure out which projects to fund.
Also discussed at the meeting in Montreal was insurance, the police negotiations [see News, page 21], housing, tax issues, land registry and Cree citizenship records. Insurance doesn’t seem like an exciting topic but the Chisasibi Band Council representive brought a touch of humour to the meeting by talking about flood insurance “just in case those dams break and we gel relocated one more time.”
Discussions included the concept of the Crees setting up a self-insurance fund in the future. The entire Cree nation loses on average two houses to fire each year. Training may be in the works for fire fighters in all the communities to bring down insurance costs.
Also, Mistissini and Chisasibi are to get new sewage systems. Construction is to start when the summer arrives.