An Agreement was reached by Canada and the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) dealing with certain past and future obligations of Canada to the Cree People in the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (1975). Grand Chief Matthew Mukash and Federal Minister Lawrence Cannon announced the proposed Agreement on July 16th, 2007 at a press conference in Montreal.
Originally signed in 1975, the JBNQA was Canada’s first modern treaty. However, Canada and the Crees held different views on how to best see these obligations fulfilled. After years of trying to find common ground on the understanding of commitments made by the federal government, the negotiators for the Government of Canada and the Grand Council of the Crees reached an proposed agreement on these matters by engaging in talks of a new relationship between Canada and the Crees rather than continuing legal actions through the courts.
The agreement, entitled an Agreement Concerning a New Relationship between the Government of Canada and the Cree of Eeyou Istchee, includes a financial payment of $1.4 billion to the Cree people, and seeks to clarify and allow for the implementation of certain of Canada’s obligations under the JBNQA. The New Relationship Agreement also provides for further discussions on greater recognition of Cree governance in the territory.
If accepted by the Cree people, the Agreement would put an end to the need to be in court over the implementation of a number of federal obligations in the JBNQA. The Grand Council of the Crees will submit the Agreement to a referendum in all Cree communities.