The New Relationship Agreement between the Cree Nation and Quebec will reverse some of the conflict over management of resources, experienced since the James Bay Agreement was signed in 1975, said Grand Chief Ted Moses.
At a special meeting of the Grand Council, November 4 to 6, he discussed the future of self-governance of Eeyou Istchee, and some of the ways to maintain the Cree Nation within Quebec and Canada.
In the new agreement with Quebec, he said, “we work in a spirit of mutual respect and admiration.” Trappers will get involved in finding solutions for forestry management problems and Cree leaders will be regularly informed of progress.
Land development concerns will also be open to input, with a choice to cancel the NBR project in favour of the EMIA/Rupert Diversion Project, under review for the next two years.
‘What type of development is acceptable to the Cree Nation in the future?” he asked the Council.
A commitment of $70 million per year in development revenues, for 50 years, is also part of the agreement. “This will help us to become major players in the development of the Territory, if we use this funding wisely,” said Chief Moses.
This should have been part of the 1975 agreement on governance, he noted. The Cree rights of self-government set up in the earlier agreement covering education, health, social services, local government, income security, environmental and social protection, hunting, fishing and trapping, are part of the new agreement.
We should look to ways of improving our management of these institutions,” he said. He also called for an evaluation of local and national governments to consider whether local organizations such as treasuries and environmental officers, or the three Cree funding organizations, would receive better support from central organizations.
“The way and manner we wish to continue to exercise national governance through a Cree Nation Government is the matter we have come together to consider,” said Chief Moses. “We must continue to improve the way we govern and to increase the recognized jurisdictions of our Nation. These two are related and necessary to realizing our potential.”
Effective and acceptable governance in the future, would involve both Cree and representatives of other residents of the James Bay region, he suggested. “Quebec wants to know the Cree view on this. It would have to promote and protect our rights, and also provide us with a forum in which to improve our relationships with the Jamesian communities and their mayors and councils.”
He said that public consultations, which included the special meeting, will continue.
“It is more complicated now to govern the Cree Nation because we no longer live only from the bush. We have communities that need to be maintained.”
New ways to protect the land while still benefiting from its new uses must be developed, said the Grand Chief, who invited participation from all Cree people.
“Our history over the past three decades has taught us that we are strong when we speak with one voice,” he said. “Improving the Eeyou Nation Governance of Eeyou Istchee will make us stronger.”