The Quebec-Cree Memorandum of Understanding just won’t go away, it seems. The Nation received some documents in the mail. They contained the breakdown on what each community would receive under the Quebec-Cree MOU process. The breakdown numbers have some people mad. The differences in how much some communities came away from the table with have some angry voices talking.
They’re asking for a debate on how funding decisions are made. It was pointed out that the chief negotiator’s community came out as one of the winners in the negotiations (see News, page 7).
This time it was money that was the issue of the Quebec-Cree MOU and not just Cree rights. Looks like this issue is not only staying around but it is growing and sparking more debate throughout the Cree territory.
Anyone could have told you that a lack of consultation and debate will always come back to haunt you in a democracy. The only alternative when you want to keep information in a tight, select group of people without feedback is to form a dictatorship, and I don’t think that the Crees are ready for this as of yet. Therefore, when even the chiefs didn’t get a chance to preview the whole Cree-Quebec MOU package, as the rumour goes, then there are bound to be these types of problems.
Without consultation, in all fairness, there will be opposition no matter what and this is healthy. Perhaps the chief negotiator cut a few corners because even getting Quebec to acknowledge its obligations was long hard work. Perhaps it was because after so many years he knew this was the best deal that he could get.
Whatever the reasons, the impact of those decisions has to be felt at the top. Without consultation there will be the repercussions and questions that are being asked today. I, for one, am glad to see people are responding to the situation and looking for ways to correct it.
It does not mean it will be easy. A case in point is the recent attempt to make the community housing allocations more objective. It would have meant that the needs of the Cree communities would have been the deciding factor in how much housing each community recieved. It was predictably shot down because the numbers quoted in the submission were apparently too “old.” A simple solution would have been to put the new numbers in to reflect today’s reality. It was not done because this, I guess, was the plausible excuse not to do it. The status quo lives on, the power struggles continue and the needs of the people be damned. Or so it seems.
We must work to change such a status quo. Getting the GCCEI and Council/Board to live up to theirfull potential will be hard work and this work should start at this year’s annual Cree community andnational general assemblies. Local band meetings are another area to keep informed and discuss what ishappening. Local mandates to a chief can help them reflect what is needed to keep the Cree communitiesand nation strong. National mandates to the leadership can only make the nation stronger. In all casesit will begin to reflea the desires of a consulted people and these problems would hopefully be a thingof the past.