I am writing in response to the recent comments made by the respected Boyce Richardson published in the Nation (Vol 16, Issue 10, March 27, 2009) and 9 Will Nicholls’) comments as editor-in-chief. Since your failure to return my telephone call, I have decided to write to you on this matter.

The film/documentary that is currently being made, titled: “The Eeyou of Eeyou Istchee”, was initiated with the support of my fellow Commissioners of the Cree Naskapi Commission as something that had to be done to preserve our history and to document it.

I am a former Chief of my community, Cree Nation of Chisasibi, and was there at the inception of the Grand Council of the Crees. I have been a Commissioner of the Cree Naskapi Commission since 1986. I felt that our history had to be preserved and documented for this and the next generation of the Crees. They should know the hardships, struggles and significance of that moment in our history. We have come a very long way and have accomplished much as a people and as a Cree Nation.

The project’s vision and concept was initiated in a letter dated April 29, 2005 to the then Grand Chief, Ted Moses, of the Grand Council of the Crees suggesting a proposal to document the evolution of James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement and get from the surviving original signatories insight to this historic treaty/agreement.

A financial contribution was proposed by the Cree Naskapi Commission to help start the process in concert with the Grand Council of the Crees to interview and record the stories of the former Cree leaders who were involved during that time of building our Cree Nation. The intention was to get their point-of-view on how this historical agreement was envisioned. Naturally, it was unanimously supported by the Council Board as it is our history as told by our people for the Cree Nation. It is vital for our younger generation and each community member to understand and learn the real story from those who lived it at the time. The production of this film/documentary includes the efforts of many Crees.

I find your comments totally disrespectful to our present and past leaders. You should know better the hardship of leadership for our people. I also take exception to the comments voiced on our leadership of the Grand Council when you quote Boyce Richardson’s website, who by the way made films that supported our fight in the early 1970s but has since been critical every time the Cree leadership makes agreements with Quebec and the Canada-Cree Relationship Agreement.

The purpose/intent of these recent agreements is to settle the disputes over the implementation of the original agreement. Respectfully, Boyce Richardson has had much to say about our lives but he has not lived the reality of our people.

As editor-in-chief, I suggest that you get your facts straight before you place your thoughts on paper.

Robert Kanatewat