The Mayor of Chibougamau wants to set the record straight. Don Bubar claims he was misquoted in an article published in the Journal de Montreal that caused quite a stir in Eeyou Istchee.
The following, about new public facilities in Ouje-Bougoumou, is an excerpt that appeared June 4 in an article titled “The Drama of Two Solitudes” (Nation translation).
“They have a 14 million dollar sports complex. I’ve never seen such a beautiful one. Their arena can accommodate 700 people. The whole village….” Explains the mayor, visibly disheartened by seeing himself as unable to do the same for his constituents in the face of what he refers to as “the opulence of the Indians.”
Bubar claims his comments were taken out of context and that he has tried to contact the journalist who wrote the story, Jean-Maurice Duddin, to clarify his stance.
“When he [Duddin] quotes me as saying ‘you can put the whole village in the arena.’ I never said that. That’s an old fabrication,” said Mayor Bubar. “Our problem is not with the Cree and Inuit. We fully agree with the agreements that the government has signed. They both have problems, but I said we have problems too. This is where we have our arguments, is with the government, not with the Cree and the Inuit.”
The Grand Council of the Crees was quick to react. On June 11, the Grand Council sent a tersely worded letter to the editor of the Journal de Montreal condemning the article. When informed that the mayor claimed he was misquoted, Bill Namagoose, the Executive Director of the Grand Council offered no comment.
Further down in the article, Duddin talks about a new haemodialysis machine at Chibougamau Hospital and in the next three paragraphs he mixes hearsay with racism with frightening ease.
“The story that best illustrates his (Bubar’s) assertions is based on the acquisition of a haemodialysis machine at the Chibougamau Hospital. It was purchased via a substantial donation by the Indians. Because of their lifestyle, Indians are particularly affected by diabetes.”
“A few months back, the mayor claims to have had to exercise pressure on the hospital administration in order for a white person to have access to it. Indians have priority.”
“The hospital claims this is not true…this is the way things work in the North.”
Mayor Bubar says he couldn’t believe his eyes after reading the piece.
“I said look, there was a situation, but after looking into it we found out and realized that it was just a technical problem, and it had nothing to do with giving advantage to anybody. And to me it wasn’t an issue, it’s still isn’t an issue, and the thing is I also mentioned the Cree did participate in the financing of this machine. And it’s understandable, because in the Cree community, they do have problems with diabetes. That was the extent of my discussion with him. He obviously found something or thought he had something to create a situation here and I found that extremely unfortunate.”