Quebec’s proposed forestry agreement provoked frustration and defiance from Crees during community meetings this month.
The meetings were held in five communities affected by forestry to discuss the province’s final offer to Crees, which was made just before the holidays.
“The overall message Cree delegates heard is that lyiyuuschii is not for sale, not at any price,” said Sam Etapp, coordinator of the Cree Forestry Working Group.
“Those are the concerns people expressed to the Grand Council — that they cannot sell the land, that they need the land for their survival and to continue their way of life as hunting people,” said Etapp.
“When you look at what Quebec was offering, it’s peanuts.”
One trapper who attended the meeting in Waswanipi said community members were unanimous in their opposition to the proposal.
“In a way we felt that the government was trying to trick us,” he said.
“But there was no fooling the people. Definitely they were trying to sell us a canoe with a bunch of holes.
“They think it’s all about dollar signs. It’s about more than money alone; it’s about life. People were pretty mad.”
The meeting in Waswanipi attracted over 200 people; one in Mistissini drew 150.
On hand for the Feb. 5 to 9 meetings were Etapp, Grand Chief Ted Moses, Waswanipi Chief Paul Gull, negotiator Abel Bosum and technical and legal advisors.
Most objectionable to Crees, said Etapp, was Quebec’s demand that Crees drop all court proceedings and agree to give up rights that arise from future court rulings.
Community members were also informed about the latest in the Mario Lord forestry court case and international developments.
Chiefs and Grand Council officials met in Val d’Or last week to discuss what to do next.