The rate of growth in the Cree Nation is amazing at times and this is one of those times. Cree Human Resources Development (CHRD) has expanded their organization to the coast by opening up a new office in Chisasibi. It might seem like a small thing but when you talk to the Elders and almost Elders you will know how much it means.
Think back to a story about Mistissini Chief Smally Petawabino when the band office was a one-room shack with two desks and a stove. At that time, Mistissini’s community hall was a long rectangular room about the size of four washrooms in the new community centre. The expansion of services and needs of the Cree Nation is something to be proud of.
CHRD Director Louisa Saganash said she was full of pride in the opening of the new office and what the staff had done to make it possible. She honoured Henry Mianscum for all his hard work and effort to make this dream come true.
Chisasibi Deputy Chief Daisy House Lameboy welcomed everyone on behalf of the community and said the CHRD’s expansion would be an important resource for all the Cree communities and people. Lameboy talked of the need for CHRD services and resources for the present and future of the Cree Nation.
That was the morning of September 6 and then it was off to Whapmagoostui for the opening of their Justice Centre. Danielle Côté, Assistant Chief Justice of the Court of Quebec, Criminal Chamber, responsible for justice in Native communities, said, “It is my first time in Whapmagoostui, an extremely beautiful setting, facing the Hudson Bay.”
Côté said, “The Criminal Code might be the same across Canada and the Youth Protection Act identical everywhere in Quebec, their application can and must differ when applied in another culture. Usually, the ultimate challenge lies with the person who has the decisional power.”
Côté said justice in Aboriginal communities is a cultural challenge. “Consequently, the judges who preside in northern communities are selected, not only because of their knowledge of the northern context, but also because of their sensitivity to differences and their capacities to adapt to harsh working conditions, in many situations and communities.”
Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come said building the Justice Centre in Whapmagoostui was a logistical problem the Cree had to overcome, but it fulfilled “commitments made by the government of Quebec almost 40 years ago.” Coon Come added, “A key part of our vision looking forward is the training and hiring of more Crees in key positions throughout the justice system, including court clerks, justices of the peace, and eventually judges.”
This shows that this is more than constructing new buildings and offices. It’s about creating true resources to ensure a brighter future for Cree communities and people.