Well as it happens I almost opened my mouth and stuck my foot in it. I had a rip roaring editorial all set up but hadn’t been able to contact one of the main players. Now as any editorialist hates, a last-minute phone call helped me see the other side in another light.

I hate it because it was at the 11th hour and in all fairness I felt I couldn’t print what I had previously enjoyed writing with such righteous gusto.

The editorial dealt with job creation in the Cree communities and the costs they have to pay to achieve them. I had felt, still do in some cases, that they were too high. Selling yourself and your belongings for Third World prices has always bothered me. Too much of this tradition of strangers coming into Native lands and suckering them stuck in my craw, so to speak. It started with Manhattan being brought for a few dollars of trade goods way back in the 1500’s. It continues to this day in many Native communities whether we like it or not. Grants are given out to exploiters who pay Natives nothing in most cases for the concessions they have attained, whether it be forestry, mining, oil exploration, etc.

Often Cree ventures into economic fields hold risks of their own. We are playing with our future and one thing I am glad to see is that it is being done democratically. After all we are now in the exploiter class and one would hope that Crees wouldn’t be buying Manhattan from themselves for a few pennies while allowing someone else to reap the profits.

My editorial pinpointed the draft Waswanipi-Domtar sawmill agreement. I still think it isn’t the best agreement there is for personal reasons of land exploitation and control, but it wasn’t as bad as I first thought. The reason why I thought it was so bad was that I only had copies of the main draft agreement and none of the accessory agreements which would have answered some of my concerns.

I do feel that some people are still unhappy with this agreement and other agreements of this type. This is another concern of mine. In the past, people were happier with their lifestyles and occupations.

This should be a factor in future projects, not only the dollars and sense (pun intended). But the big question I have is do people feel good about what is happening in their communities in economic development? I am not talking about necessities of employment for Cree people but the necessity of healthy community growth. For our communities to grow healthy and strong it is necessary that they can be proud of what goes on in them. If, as a community, we feel we must do something distasteful just to survive, how healthy do you think the individual members of that community will be? The roots of hopelessness—not being able to change, to perpetuate our society or to have something worthwhile to do—has had detrimental effects. We see them in the anger, the suicides, alcoholism and other problems that affect some of the youth today.

This must change. Isn’t it time we ask the community members themselves for ideas concerning the types of economic development they would like to see in their own community? People I have talked to feel that projects are more or less shoved down their throats and they aren’t given a real choice in the matter in most cases.

Why not turn the books on them and ask for their input? What can it harm? A few good ideas may even surface. Isn’t an old saying two heads are better than one? Imagine how much better a community of heads!