This editorial appeared in The Eastern Door of Kahnawake, Sept. 12, 1997.
The plan to move some 2,000 Hydro-Quebec employees and their families to Radisson, deep in the heart of Cree territory, can only be seen as another invasion by non-Natives of Native lands.
In the past, when settlers migrated to our lands this was seen as a natural evolution, a divine right given to them by God to Christianize and colonize the lands of the Heathens.
It did not matter to the settlers that Native Peoples already there also had divine rights given to them by their own God. But this was of little importance to the new settlers. We were ignored, relegated to small areas of land or eradicated, whichever suited the settlers best.
As always, the settlers wanted to take from us anything that was of value. Generally that was the land. In some cases it was our resources like gold, oil or water power. Moving more Quebecers north amounts to yet another invasion of Native territory. Its purpose is to generate wealth for Quebec at the expense of the Cree People.
Wealth can be measured in many ways. Quebec can be expected to assert more economic sway in the North because of the increased population. New companies will sprout up to service the new population, in particular the need for recreation. There will be greater demands on the lakes and streams in the area. And who will benefit? Not the Cree but the Quebec entrepreneur.
Hydro-Quebec itself admits that it will save $80 million in moving its employees to Radisson instead of flying them in and out. That $80 million is more acquired wealth by Hydro-Quebec. Nothing has changed since the days of the wagon trains.
Just as ominous is the suspicion that the migration is a plot to flood the north with Yes voters in time for the next referendum. Of course Quebec denies this accusation and suggests that the Cree are paranoid.
Separatists are experts at paranoia. They accuse anyone who considers the negative cost of separation as a hate monger and blackmailer. But the Crees are not naive. They have long experience with non-Natives and they are justifiably suspicious of Quebec’s intentions.
There are no alternatives or incentives for the Crees to take over some of those jobs at Hydro-Quebec. The government has not offered training programs or joint-venture initiatives to share the work and spinoffs from the hydro-electric stations. Quebec has just decided to move in, keep the jobs and stay permanently. Coexistence and sharing are not part of the Quebec plan. This is what has the Crees suspicious.
They know that the government of Quebec will only have one more chance at a referendum on separation and that the North is their Achille’s Heel. The Crees have garnered much support both domestically and internationally for their own right to determine if they want to separate or stay with Canada. The Crees have a strong argument that they are the majority population in the North, are a separate and distinct culture from Quebec, and have their own right of self-determination. Quebec has to find a way to undermine the Crees.
It is just too much of a coincidence of 2,000 Quebecers in the James Bay area to be anything but a deliberate attempt to invade Cree territory and to assimilate the North into a separate Quebec.