Steven Bearskin calls the latest version of the Great Whale hydro-project a “radical” idea.

It would be the first-ever wholly Native-owned hydro-electric project in Canada and would guarantee Crees much-needed revenues for generations, he says.

“There would be 100-percent Cree ownership. It would be the first of its kind,” said Bearskin, president of the Cree Construction and Development Company.

Bearskin predicted some Crees will be interested in the project because it promises jobs and long-term revenue.

“I have a feeling some people would be open (to it),” he said.

But it’s going to be a tough sell. Matthew Mukash, the deputy grand chief, was chief of Whapmagoostui during the campaign against the original Great Whale hydro project, a campaign he led.

That plan was shelved in 1994 after a nasty five-year international battle.

“I know people are not so favourable to it. I think nobody’s interested in the project, except to hear about it,” he said.

Asked if his community has had any change of heart on the project, he replied, “I doubt it very much. Not from this community anyway.”

Mukash was present at meetings last fall to discuss the latest proposal.

Bearskin acknowledged there are “many hurdles.” Apart from Cree consent, it’s not clear whether the Quebec government would be open to giving Crees 100-percent ownership.

But Bearskin is hopeful, pointing to a recent agreement that would see several Innu communities become minority partners in a hydro-project on the North Shore. “The government seems to be willing to make changes in the way it is thinking,” he said.

Before there are any formal discussions with Hydro-Quebec, however, he said Crees have to make a decision on whether to go ahead in the first place.