When Besuum Petrolium and Cree Energy merged to become Petronor, it was a whole new ballgame. Grand Chief Ted Moses said that it was only good business sense that led to the merger, it also led to Petro Canada and Petronor holding a gala event in Montreal on October 29th to celebrate their new and ongoing relationship.

An enthusiastic Petro-Canada V.P. Boris Jackman said he was stealing a page from David Letterman with the 10 top reasons to “celebrate our partnership.” Jackman said Petro Canada was pleased to be celebrating 15 years of partnership with the Crees of James Bay and they always had a unique relationship with the aboriginal peoples. Petro Canada is committed to a long-term relationship with the Crees and the benefits are mutual. Jackman said the Cree understand what the word partnership means and praised the Cree for their “vision and courage.” Jackman said the main reason why Petro Canada was glad to partner with the Crees was “because we like and respect you.”

Moses told the audience Crees started with modest resources and infrastructure and after going through growing pains achieved a successful joint enterprise. “We are today celebrating not only the evolution of a business, but also the evolution of a partnership,” said Moses.

Moses made an allusion between the signing of the Paix des Braves and the partnership between the Crees and Petronor. He said, “Previous conflicts have been put aside as we found we could focus on a terrain of mutual interest and co-operation which has come to be a far vaster terrain than perhaps either of us could have imagined.” Moses added that in the past Crees were systematically excluded from economic development. He said the Crees are entering into economic relationships as equals but that, “We will not be able to do this alone. We will need honest, committed and forward looking partners – partners like Petro Canada to lend a hand. Moses said that respect was a big part of the Cree way of life and partners like Petro Canada realized that.

When asked about oil or gas exploration in Eeyou Istchee, Jackman said there are no plans yet, but if something should look good they would be willing to partner with the Crees on that aspect of the petroleum business also.

Moses told the Nation this partnership means an end of rivalries between Cree companies and this led to redefining the relationship with Petro Canada. Moses said the exclusivity of working with Petro Canada would help out both. Moses was referring to the SEBJ deal that Petronor has for the EM-1 project. “This means a bigger market, bigger growth and bigger profits for everyone,” said Moses.

The surprise of the evening came when federal Liberal MP Guy St. Julien said he was pleased at the partnership between the two companies. He just wished that his government would give the same amount of respect to the Crees. St. Julien called upon the feds to respect the JBNQA. “The South says there is no homeless in the Cree communities but there are 16-22 people in the same house. There are 6-7 kids in one room. I’ve told my government they should look at the Cree reality. They should visit the communities in the North,” said St. Julien.