The Grand Council of the Crees is joining a coalition of non-native municipalities, forestry companies and citizens in calling for a larger harvesting area for forestry companies in Eeyou Istchee.

Forestry companies were fearful of the impact the signing of the Paix des Braves Agreement would have on their future cutting rights, and citizens were wary of the resulting loss of jobs.

The Grand Council assured them that the forestry norms in place as a result of the agreement were in line with the provincial guidelines and consistent with the Coulombe Commission’s findings that forestry companies were cutting at a much faster rate and that regeneration efforts were not keeping up.

Despite this, the Grand Council, in the interests of promoting harmony with their non-native neighbours, chose to support an increase of the cachement area from which cutting rights are granted without negatively impacting the province’s forestry protection policy.

In a press release, Grand Chief Ted Moses explained the Council’s move.

“When we signed the New Relationship Agreement with Quebec we took our obligations to resolve differences in a non-adversarial manner with utmost seriousness. Part of the new relationship entered into with Quebec also requires of us all to find constructive and creative ways to address a wide range of issues which arise between ourselves and our neighbouring communities.

“We understand their concerns, we respect the openness with which they bring their concerns to our attention and we appreciate their desire for collaborative approaches to resolving this issue,” he said.

“It is the view of the Grand Council of the Crees that an increase in the cachement area does not affect the integrity of the provincial forest protection measures, nor does it negatively affect the Cree’s rights under their agreement with Quebec,” Moses concluded.