The first things you see through the doors to Mistissini’s Annual General Assembly are the booths. The arena is surrounded with them. Mistco, the Grand Council forestry table, and Waasiyaau Development Group. Waasiyaau was one of the promoters in this years show. As an added inducement to hear their pitch they had free cold water and ice tea. Not that many people needed the encouragement as the booths were constantly being visited. It’s a sign of the evolution of Cree politics. Entities, organization and people were actually lobbying the voters on projects or services they wanted to see happen.
Mistissini is also looking at being included in forestry discussions to talk about the traditional Cree land not within the defined limits of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement. This twist to the forestry case is not a new one with the Mistissini community. The Grand Council of the Crees are being asked to include these lands in their discussions so they won’t be negatively impacted until their status is clear. Mistissini says they still hold full aboriginal title to lands never ceded.
Women and children at risk were a concern for community members. A joint committee will be created to look women and children who are displaced from their homes because of alcohol/ drugs and social problems occur. Another problem voters saw was that women in abusive relationships had to leave the community and possibly their children. Residents didn’t think this was right and are looking for ways to change the system to favour women when they are the victims and are trying to change their lives.
Cultural Activities got a boost when Jimmy Gunner’s resolution was adopted and the members expressed their support.
Mistissini’s Faith Bible Camp for kids should get $30,000 a year if funds are available. The churches in Mistissini were also seen as having financial problems. The band is expected to look for funding sources for these secular organizations. Other churches wishing to move into the area may have a problem as the petition is specifically aimed at the three existing churches.
Mistissini voters are very concerned about the amount of stress any chief has to deal with. Vacation time is a minimum of 30 days the Mistissini Chief to help alleviate this problem. May I recommend Osprey fishing camp? Not only do cell phones not work there but it is one of the most peaceful places I have been.
Two businesses have been granted “Superficies”, which means they get granted a lot upon which they can build and locate their property. The two land grants were given to Smally Brien for his Arcade Amusement Center and to Waasiyaau Corporation to build and maintain a commercial complex. Both land grants were for a period of 25 years less a day.
Mistco Ventures Inc. will be the expected recipient of a half a million-dollar loan from Eeyou Companee. The loan will be repaid over a period of five years with the principal and interest charged directly to the Mistissini shares of income available for distribution in the Economic Assistance Fund or Community Fund.
Mistissini voters have requested that the growing backlog of housing maintenance work be brought up to date. A study to look at indoor environmental conditions will be done. People feel that poor air quality, humidity and other environmental concerns should be addressed. The study will be in collaboration with the Cree Board of Health and Social Services.
Housing was a concern as Mistissini is 421 houses short of what is immediately needed for residents.
All in all a fun AGA to attend and listen to. If only I had won the BBQ…