From the faxline… The headline read “Cree Strategic Planning.” This is followed by the Quebec government’s proposals to Crees for a “regional government.”
Frankly, as I read through it, I found it quite disturbing and alarming. I felt like that guy in the action movies who yells, “Go back, it’s a trap,” just before he gets killed. The words seem reasonable and reassuring until you give them a second look and analyze the potential impact on the Cree People of Eeyou Astchee.
Two paragraphs stood out in the proposals. One paragraph calls on the Crees to sit down together with something called “the Radissonie” in order “to plan for the future of the region together.”
Another paragraph proposes that Crees and non-Natives in the region “formulate a common vision… of how the James Bay territory should be developed.”
Those Crees present at last year’s GCCQ/ CRA Annual General Assembly must remember the concerns raised over the request of Radissonie to become a permanent municipality instead of the temporary town as guaranteed by the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement. One would think that this would send a clear message to Quebec that the Crees have concerns over this issue.
This cheap attempt to legitimize Radissonie as a permanent municipality and at the same time breach the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement without the Crees’ consent can only be termed ethno-centrically ignorant and reprehensible.
If we let them do this then we are giving up the right to say no to arbitrary changes to the James Bay Agreement. When it’s all said and done, a large majority of Crees approved the Agreement. I know people are not happy with it and with the way it was imposed upon the Crees, but any chipping away of the rights and guarantees contained within must be vehemently opposed by all. These things must not be limited to a handful of people in negotiating rooms. Fundamental rights as determined by the Agreement are the legacy of every Cree and changes to them must be decided by the majority, otherwise democracy is nothing but a sick joke for the Cree People as a whole.
The process of assimilation also seems to continue being a factor in these types of documents. Quebec’s proposals tell me that the government wants a majority of non-Natives to decide on economic activity in the James Bay Territory. If the proposal is accepted, I predict the mega-projects would soon see the table again. Only this time, Crees will have less strength to fight against them. The rights to say no to damaging economic development will be more difficult to have respected. Along with Crees, non-Natives will have a say over the region’s development. Who do you think will be the minority decision-maker in that new group?
Perhaps some of these things should be looked at by this year’s GCCQ/CRA Assembly in Waswanipi.
Remember, every Cree is invited.