The story is an old one for natives, but the ending proves what Yogi Beara said all along: “It ain’t over ’till it’s over.”

The Ouje Bougoumou Nation has fought the longest of all our nations for recognition and survival. Their problems started in the 1920s, when forestry and mining developers started exploiting their territory. In fact, the nearby town of Chibougamau was built on natural resources taken mostly from the land of the Ouje Bougoumou, and is located on an Ouje Bougoumou trapline.

In the 1930s, this nation was added to the Mistissini Band list by federal Indian Affairs officials. Throughout the years the fight for continued. The people always knew who and what they were, but had a hard time convincing the federal and provincial governments. They were forced to move many times and became scattered, living in what Canadians would call fourth world conditions. They always refused to be categorized as something they weren’t. In the negotiations that resulted in the signing of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, they were never acknowledged except for a statement that, in some distant future, they would eventually be recognized.

That day arrived this year on December 2, when the Ouje Bougoumou Band held opening ceremonies for their Nation Headquarters. This entire community is a testimony to traditional values and lifestyles in the face of overwhelming odds.

Perhaps Ted Moses, the Grand Council of the Crees’ ambassador to the UN, said it best: “Today this ‘impossible’ community is a model for the struggle for our rights. Indigenous peoples should see that no matter how many times they are forced off their land, out of their territory – they will return.”

The Ouje Bougoumou people have returned and they are now home.