The first anniversary of the Cree-Quebec Forestry Board gave its founders cause for celebration and a little self-congratulation when the board’s first annual report was delivered at a conference in Val d’Or on September 24.

The Cree-Quebec Forestry Board also used the occasion to launch a contest to draw a logo for the forestry board. All high school students from Abitibi, Northern Quebec and all the Cree communities in the territory and the Crees of Quebec are invited to participate. Complete contest rules are posted on the CQFB website, which was also unveiled during the conference.

The main players at the conference included Grand Chief Ted Moses, Val d’Or Mayor Fernand Trahan, all the members of the forestry board from the nine Cree communities as well as the Cree chiefs, Cree-Quebec Forestry board chairman Jean-Pierre Gauthier and Forests, Wildlife and Parks Minister Pierre Corbeil.

Grand Chief Moses said he is impressed the board managed to set up a fully functioning office, establish a code of ethics and a long-term management plan, and develop a web page, all in its first year.

“The board also managed to work on a comprehensive development program toward new wildlife directives,” Moses observed. “These wildlife directives particularly excite me. They will represent an evolution, an adapted forestry regime of the Paix de Braves and help to further insure the harvesting is harmonized with Cree traditional activities. The evolution of the forestry regime is exactly what the negotiators had in mind.”

Forestry Board Chairman Jean-Pierre Gauthier said the agreement is a good start. “It’s an example for every government, and every nation to make an arrangement for the management of the future,” he asserted. “We have done a lot this first year. There’s very good will between the two parties, the Cree and the Quebec government. Now the real challenge is to see that this agreement will be translated in reality for the trappers and also the people that exploit the forest in order to have a real good working relationship in exploiting the forests and in protecting the resources, specifically the habitat.”

Forests, Wildlife and Parks Minister Pierre Corbeil agreed: “It illustrates that we’re making real progress between Quebec and the Cree Nation on the forestry regime.”

But there’s still work to be done, emphasized Deputy Grand Chief Paul Gull. “It’s been a year to finally get the annual report and to launch a logo contest,” Gull said. “During the conference, the Lac Simon issue came up from the mayor, then the mayors’ issues came up, who and where we were supposed to have the conference – Chibougamau, Quevillon, or Val d’Or. They had a little debate over that. That’s how it went but I think there’s still a lot of work needs to be done. They did a good job in starting the work.”

Val d’Or Mayor Fernand Trahan was truly happy that the Cree-Quebec Forestry Board held the conference in his hometown. He hopes that there will be a better understanding between the people of Eeyou Istchee and the government of Quebec from the creation of the Cree-Quebec Forestry Board and the Paix de Braves.