The Christmas party for the Grand Council of the Crees and Cree Regional Authority this year was a stunning success, hosting over 196 dignitaries and guests. The spiritual Christmas cheer was in full swing and everyone was wearing ear-to-ear smiles.

A big part of the party was the honouring of GCCQ/CRA employees who have been working for the Cree for more than 15 years.

The master of ceremonies was the ever-humorous Albert Diamond, chairman of AirCreebec. Giving out the awards were Grand Chief Ted Moses and Deputy Grand Chief Paul Gull.

“Thirty years ago on August 8 the Cree began their biggest positive action in their lives to form and organize the Grand Council of the Crees,” said Diamond. “Thirty years later we gathered together in Eastmain with the surviving founders with the Grand Council of the Crees and they were given recognition along with their spouses. It’s impossible to invite everybody but we do include everyone in these celebrations. I wish everybody a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, wachiya.”

Grand Chief Dr. Ted Moses welcomed all who have helped the Grand Council-Cree Regional Authority.

“The Cree Nation Government and I welcome your spouses and all the guests who are here with us tonight,” Moses said. “I also thank spouses of our employees and their children. Your support in keeping the family going and in other ways allows our employees to travel or work the late hours necessary to meet the demands of their jobs.

“I also thank my wife Elsa and our daughter and son for your sacrifices over the years that made my work possible. You who work at the Grand Council and your families are all part of the progress we are making. Remember, you work for the future of the Cree Nation. We are strong because we support one another.

“The Cree name of the Grand Council, Winigegoweeyouch notchimeeweeyouch Enatimatouch, means ‘coasters and inlanders working in each others interests.’ This is what we do. Whether we work on snowshoes or not, let us set out on this new journey into the New Year as the hunters do: to seize the opportunities to accomplish what we want for our families and friends and for the Cree nation. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, wachiya.”

Deputy Grand Chief Paul Gull said, “I would like to thank all the employees this year and all the hard work they’ve done. I see a lot of input that you guys have done. We support you because we are your leaders and I also support Ted Moses because he’s the Grand Chief. I’m very proud of all the work we accomplished together. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and try to be well this coming Christmas, Wachiya.”

The people honoured were:

1. ANNA H. WAPACHEE (15 years)

Nemaska Head Office

Wapachee began her career with the Cree as a receptionist in 1989 at the GCCEI/CRA head office. This position evolved into that of receptionist/secretary. In 1993 Wapachee was engaged as secretary to the Director of the Traditional Pursuits Department. She continues her work in this capacity and had developed and honed her secretarial skills, while working in three languages.

2. WILLIE ISERHOFF (15 years)

Nemaska Head Office

Iserhoff was hired as Director of the Traditional Pursuits Department in 1989. His experience in the Cree Trappers Association made him a natural for this job. He oversees a staff of 12 employees, including the environmental and forestry team, and the Cree culture and archaeological staff. Iseroff has been appointed president of Aanischaaukamikw (Cree Cultural Institute) and serves as a member on various Cree committees and boards.

3. EDNA NEEPOSH SR. (15 years)

Nemaska Head Office

Neeposh was hired as Executive Secretary in 1989 to then-Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come. She served in this position for his three terms and this position evolved to that of Administrative Assistant. Neeposh continued as administrative assistant working for former Deputy Grand Chief Mukash and now with present Deputy Grand Chief Paul Gull. She has also provided administrative support to the Director General during interim periods. Neeposh has diligently strived to provide administrative support to her leaders and to the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee.

4. GINETTE LAJOIE (16 years)

Montreal GCCEI/CRA Office

Lajoie began as Environment Analyst in 1988 for the Traditional Pursuits Department. This position has changed into coordination of the environment regime for the Traditional Pursuits Department. She has provided environmental analysis and direction to the Cree communities, as well as providing assistance to her director. Lajoie’s expertise in environment analysis and management has been beneficial to the Cree members of the environmental committees and is said to be extremely advantageous to the Cree Nation.

5. BILL NAMAGOOSE (16 years)

Cree Embassy – Ottawa

Namagoose was engaged as Executive Director in 1988. He oversees all matters relating to the political dynamics for the Grand Council of the Crees Eeyou Istchee. Namagoose was instrumental in the establishment of a Cree Embassy, where he oversees the operations and staff. He has played a key role in the ongoing negotiations and was particularly active with the Paix des Braves Agreement. Namagoose continues to provide leadership and interaction with the Cree community representatives and government officials. He ensures the continuity and success of the ongoing negotiations and implementation.

6. LILLIAN LOON (18 years)

Cree Embassy – Ottawa

Loon was hired in 1986 as receptionist/secretary for the Cree Embassy in Ottawa. She was promoted to the position of Executive Secretary to Executive Director Bill Namagoose. Loon has provided diligent service to the Cree Nation for 18 years and continues to do so today. As well, her administrative support services for Namagoose are not only highly appreciated but remain exemplary.

7. BRIAN CRAIK (20 years)

Cree Embassy – Ottawa

Mr. Craik, who has a fluent knowledge of the Cree language, worked for the Crees from 1972-74, collecting information for the Malouf court case and dealing with education issues. He rejoined the Crees in 1979, as the NBR Coordinator for the Waskaganish Band and for the Grand Council. Craik and his family resided in Waskaganish until 1983, at which time he accepted a position with the federal James Bay Secretariat and worked to implement the Cree/Naskapi Act. He returned to the GCCEI in 1988, and continues today as Director of Federal Relations. Craik has advised on development projects and on negotiations on education, adult training, JBNQA implementation and offshore islands. He is a member of environmental committees and on a federal commission on the proposed EMI A Project.

8. EDITH MARTIN (21 years)

Montreal GCCEI/CRA Office

Martin was engaged in 1978 as receptionist/secretary at

the Montreal office. She left this position in 1982 and

returned in 1987. She was promoted to the position of

Environment Secretary in 1996. She continues to provide support services to the Traditional Pursuits environment regime professionals and works diligently providing support service to the Cree Nation. Master of Ceremonies Albert Diamond remarked that she had been in the Cree territory so long she should be considered an honourary Cree.


Montreal GCCEI/CRA Office

Alayne’s first contact with the James Bay Cree dates back to 1978. At the time the Grand Council had its office in the building where Alayne was working for Margo Oliver, Food Editor of the Montreal Star. Grand Council support staff came to know Alayne and when the position of office manager was vacant, Alayne was approached. In the following 24 years, as the manager of the Montreal Grand Council office, Alayne has proven many times over her dedication and support for the Cree people. She has worked on office policy, staffing, and annual reports, while managing the office. Working with young Cree students and/or youth has been an important focus for her. As a result of her spirit and work ethic she has made many friends in the Cree Nation. Alayne has always shown a true sense of teamwork and loyalty to the Cree Nation.

10. EDDIE DIAMOND (28 years)

Nemaska Head Office

Perhaps one of the best known Cree public figures, Diamond commenced working for the GCCEI from 1976 to 1978 as Director of Housing. This lead to the establishment of the Cree Housing Corporation in 1979. Diamond was appointed its President. He maintained this leadership role until the decentralization the of Cree Housing Corporation to the Cree communities in 1986. He was reengaged, in 1986, as Director of Community Services under the Cree Regional Authority, until his appointment by the Council/Board as Director General for the Cree Regional Authority in 1992. Diamond continues his mandate as Director General, overseeing the numerous departments within the administration of the Cree Regional Authority as his vast mandate demands, while directing a staff of over 100 employees. He has served and continues to serve as a member on the various committees and boards for the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee.

11. ALAN PENN (30 years)

Montreal GCCEI/CRA Office

Mr. Penn’s involvement with the James Bay Crees dates back to 1972 and the studies carried out for the legal proceedings that resulted in the decision by Judge Malouf on the La Grande project. After the Malouf judgment, Mr. Penn joined the technical support team created by the Grand Council of the Crees during the negotiation, first of the Agreement-in-Principle, and then of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement. He continued to work with the Grand Council during the implementation of the Agreement and spent much of his time working on environmental mercury contamination. He continues to take an active interest in the subject of mercury. He was part of the negotiating team responsible for the land, wildlife and environment provisions in the Agreement and still works on various aspects of the implementation of these sections of the Agreement. During the last 10 years, Mr. Penn has been involved with the NAFTA Commission for Environmental Cooperation and with the National Advisory Committee for CEPA, in both cases with responsibilities for trying to ensure that aboriginal interests are taken into account in developing government policies for environmental contaminants.