I haven’t missed a Grand Council/Cree Regional Authority Annual General Assembly since the Nation first went to press. Every one of them has been fun, unique and thoroughly enjoyable. Going to Eastmain without my wingman, Neil Diamond, felt as though something was missing. He was up in the belly of Great Whale working on his next cinematic opus.
The AGA itself was well run without taxing the stamina of those attending. Kudos to Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come on the new weeklong format instead of the past three-day marathons. He also kept the momentum of the AGA rolling at a pace not seen before. You’ll notice in the feature on the AGA there aren’t many resolutions and I can understand why. With more time to look at and discuss issues resolutions weren’t put forward just to have one. If an issue needed more thought and time to examine it fully before making a decision, it was agreed upon.
In this way Coon Come has changed the way Crees look at and deal with the world. His studies in political science are apparent not only in this but in the possibilities of Cree governance. The framework agreement on governance is impressive but even so Coon Come wants to make sure every Cree has the opportunity to participate in the process. I encourage all of you to attend the community tours on this issue. Many of the past complaints have been addressed from control of the land, Cree consent and participation on development, the eventual abolishment of the Municipality of James Bay, a regional government over the territory that includes Cree and much more. If there is something missing then the Grand Council wants to hear from you. Coon Come has said he doesn’t want to tell people what the leaders are doing but rather to have all Crees be a part of it.
Eastmain deserves a round of applause for the way they hosted the AGA. There was something to do every night and Eastmainiacs were more than friendly. I felt I was in a crowd of old friends and family the entire time. The last time the Nation boys went to Eastmain was the last time they had a Grand Council/CRA AGA so I asked for a community tour. I was impressed with the changes. The Band Office is more than just offices but a collection of artwork and old photos. The photos will be kept for a certain amount of time and then given to the descendants of the individuals portrayed in them. They will be replaced with others from Eastmain’s journey through life.
It wasn’t a bad lesson to be reminded that while cherishing the past we should share it and renew it while we ourselves help to create a better future. In the end that is what matters and Eastmain and this year’s AGA taught me that.