In our last issue, the Nation published a letter to the editor from Leonard Matthews. In the letter, Matthews claimed that the Grand Council had completed negotiations with the Canadian government. It was also claimed that after approval by the federal cabinet this new agreement would be worth $4.3 billion to the Cree. The Nation has since learned that these statements are untrue.
Matthews says he obtained his information on the alleged deal from a former chief. Matthews does not work for the Grand Council and has not been involved in any negotiations with the federal government. In fact, negotiations have not been completed. Nor is there a $4.3 billion price tag attached to any deal or plans for a major announcement by the Fed’s anytime soon.
He may have had the best of intentions. But given the import of the claims in his letter, the Nation wishes to apologize to our readers and the Cree Nation as a whole for not verifying Matthew’s claims. We had planned to do a follow up story in this issue.
Imagine our surprise when we found out the truth. That’s when we realized that we had dropped the ball by allowing major untruths to slip through and make it to print.
The Nation acknowledges the mistake and will do everything in our power to ensure that this type of incident does not happen again.
We are concerned about the possible repercussions of this letter, for example: 1) it could affect current negotiations with the federal government over self-government and the funding formula, and; 2) it could affect relations with our First Nations allies who might have believed that the Crees were receiving funds that had been earmarked for the Kelowna Agreement.
The Nation can only hope that any possible damage to ongoing negotiations and relationships with other First Nations can be quickly repaired.
The Nation has a policy of putting in almost all letters to the editor and will continue to do so. We feel it is important to allow as many voices as possible to be heard in Eeyou Istchee.
It is a shame when this policy is abused and we usually do a better job of guarding against such abuse. In the future we will require phone numbers with each letter in order to verify information and sources. While we do occasionally allow anonymous letters we will require your name and in some cases will refuse to print them if no name is attached. Letters that are libelous or slanderous will, as always, be refused. The Nation also retains the right to edit, shorten or refuse letters.
We hope in the future we will all act in a responsible manner.