Every generation of Crees will have to retell and adapt the story of their past to meet the needs of their particular historical and cultural and social situation. That is what will keep them alive as Crees – both socially and culturally. They will need to shape the material into a narrative that will serve current political needs. It is in this context that we should understand the selection of persona and the narrative generated in the 2011 version of the Cree history-as-fable. Together We Stand Firm is the first episode of a planned four-part series titled The Eeyouch of Eeyou Istchee. This initial episode presents a creation myth of how a new modern powerful nation was fashioned by a few mistapeos (Cree for Great Men). And very much in keeping with the recorded traditional Cree mythology, Episode One is a male tale in which women play no active part. Perhaps the activities of that other 51% of the Cree population will be introduced to the world in later episodes.

Demythologizing a myth entails first understanding how the myth was created. In my view the notion of a Cree Nation and the nature of the Cree leaders are the creation of mass media, a product of corporate imagination in the manner of a Broadway musical or a Hollywood Western – or, indeed, the CBC or CTV News. An epic Cree/Quebec court battle has become a tale of achievement by a few exemplary, larger-than-life men of astonishing rectitude. The Cree leaders presented in the movie are products of a literary mould that casts biographies to appeal to the giants of industry. The Eeyou Istchee narrative is clever in that it also can give a special spiritual thrill to Canadian New Agers who can find in it the validation of mythologized Cree culture and tradition, the romantic shadows of dreams like those that Don Juan spun out to Carlos Castaneda.

The Cree leaders presented in the film are the successors of the first Indian leaders of northern Quebec – traditional Montagnais hunters from Lac-Saint-Jean – who the early 20th century American anthropologist Frank G. Speck searched out and popularized first in a two-page weekend spread in a major Philadelphia newspaper. These Montagnais hunters were presented as ancient beings alive in a modern world. But long before Quebec Premier Robert Bourassa dreamed of damning the rivers of northern Quebec and flooding ancient hunting territories, the hunting that was the life centre of these original inhabitants of the region had lost most of its economic relevance in the face of new seasonal employment possibilities. In the Cree case, something that is not that evident in this first episode of the series, is that once the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA) was signed, hunting lost much of its status.

The post-JBNQA Cree leaders we see in the film grew up to become part of a civil administration responsible for new land-claims ideology and welfare. In contrast with real hunters providing food for their families, they are now salaried chiefs and factotums handling large sums of money on behalf of their friends and relatives. Rather than hunting, they oversee hunting legislation and fit out commercial properties rather than seasonal camps. Rather than walking their land to determine the status of the animals, they now exercise juridical functions in Montreal and Ottawa boardrooms on matters of community land-use disputes. The new leaders spend most of their lives in these cities sitting with consultants and omnipotent lawyers – who, from their arrival on the scene in 1971, have assumed the patina and power of medieval bishops.

Of course, the New Cree Leaders (masquerading to the national and international press as “Hunters”) are, like the old hunter-leaders, a creation of social action. The “goodness” of the old hunter, the “real” hunter in the Speck/Harvey A. Feit/Adrian Tanner mould, was his personal perfection, which made him a confidant of the Master of Animals. For the benefit of his family or his community, he (never a she) rapped on his drum and sang his intercessions and exchanged arcane knowledge in a secret, learned language. In contrast – yet in a similar process – the New Cree Leaders have attempted to fulfill the song-singing role of community caretakers by rapping on government doors and parlaying with “Government” in the misty language of public servants. However, few of them captured the popular Cree imagination.

Outside Creeland however, both Old Hunter and New Leader aroused great passion among people who had little or no understanding of the issues involved. It matters little if the New Leaders in the post-JBNQA society in the James Bay are heterogeneous, polyethnic, polytechnic, or not ethnic at all: all that remained constant were the names of old – Chief, Grand Chief and Elder – or newly invented titles like Youth Chief or Consultant; and these have become vessels that can hold different contents at different times. Names have become renewable resources: they hold the potential to convince people of continuity, even if radical discontinuity is the local lived reality.

The reality of the James Bay court challenge was that the Crees – governed by custom – lacked a coherent hierarchy and structure that might have enabled them to settle their affairs with Hydro-Québec, the State and an encroaching, engulfing society. Instead, rhetoric in Cree served as a sort of political glue that bound together a number of elite families who migrated into positions of power. This was understood early on by the Indians of Quebec Association (IQA) and the Cree legal and social consultants who assumed the role of their sherpas.

In this context, the narrative of the film is straightforward, notwithstanding that it abounds with anachronisms, which, in the final analysis were necessary to present a coherent invention of tradition.

1. In Montreal, Premier Robert Bourassa decides to get into the electricity business and make Quebec rich by selling the power generated by damming the rivers of the James Bay watershed to the USA. He is shown making the announcement with great fanfare on April 30, 1971.

2. In Rupert’s House, Chief Billy Diamond’s wife hears of the announcement on the news on the kitchen radio while doing her housework. (Surely on short wave since the local radio station opened only in the1980s.)

3. When Chief Billy Diamond returns from a successful day’s goose hunt she tells him to turn on the radio to listen to the news. He hears of the James Bay Project which will flood his land.

4. Chief Billy Diamond decides to fight for his land so he phones Philip Awashish in Mistissini to organize a meeting to develop strategy.

5. Cree Great Men, like the shamans of the fabled past, slay a great Adush (monster) – in this case with a court injunction stopping the works of Hydro-Québec – and set up a new tomorrow in Eeyou Istchee under the leadership of Grand Chief Billy Diamond.

My recollection of happenings in 1971

It is certainly fact that on Tuesday, June 29, 1971, 28 councillors, chiefs, Elders and youth from seven Cree communities met in the old school in Mistissini. And it is certain that this was the first-ever political gathering of the leaders of these communities. My recollection of the event is strengthened by the notes I made while attending the gathering and the photographs I took while it was happening. I even recorded most of the sessions so I can play them back to refresh a fading memory.

I recall the gladness of people who were meeting their own people for the first time. Strangers, yet neighbours and even relatives, long heard of but until today un-met. I also remember quite clearly the dread of the group that was meeting. They had come together to learn more about an announcement made two months earlier by Robert Bourassa, the Premier of Quebec, and Hydro-Québec that the Nottaway, Broadback and Rupert rivers would be dammed and huge hydro-electric generating facilities installed. The sketchy reports and diagrams in the newspapers of what was called the NBR Project, or the James Bay Project, showed flooding that was biblical in magnitude. Water levels in Mistissini and Waswanipi lakes would rise 18 to 21 feet (6 or 7 metres) and the flooding would drown hundreds of square kilometres of their hunting territories. Half of Mistissini would be under water and have to be relocated. The proposed new site for a new Waswanipi community was shown as being in the proposed flooded area. People simply could not comprehend the vastness of the flooding that would extend to Rupert’s House, Eastmain and Nemaska. “Where will we live?” they asked. “What will become of the animals?” From the perspective of Waswanipi, Mistissini, Nemiscau, Rupert’s House and Eastmain, the originally announced NBR project could only be considered an impending disaster.

Today, 40 years after that first meeting in Mistissini, it is easy to forget that there were absolutely no inland-coastal band council or band administration exchanges of any kind until that group came together in Mistissini between June 29 and July 1, 1971. Prior to the 1970s, any sort of coast-inland inter-band visiting was rare. During the 18th and 19th centuries, and up to about 1920, a few dozen men who worked on the “canoe brigades” freighted supplies from Rupert’s House (as Waskaganish was then known) to Nemaska, Waswanipi and Mistissini. These few dozen men met inland and coastal peoples for no more than a few days each year. Of course, for centuries individual hunting groups did move around and marriage ties developed between individual families from coast and the inland; however face-to-face encounters were exceptional. In fact, until the mid-’60s these quite separate and distinct regional groups were known to the outside world as Montagnais-Naskapi Cree and Swampy Cree. They began to be referred to as James Bay Cree and treated as a single political and social unit only in the lead-up to, during, and following the James Bay court case.

Looking back at my field notes and reviewing the official record four decades later, with hindsight it is easy to make sense of the many things were going on in Quebec and Ottawa in the months before and after the James Bay Project was announced. For one thing, quite unknown to the Cree, there were ongoing government/Indian meetings and telephone communications discussing the James Bay Project with the Indians of Quebec Association (IQA) before the famous 1971 meeting in Mistissini. The IQA had met with both Quebec and Ottawa to discuss the matter at some time between the Bourassa announcement on April 27 and the end of June. The Crees were not told of this. And while the Crees were waiting for an answer to their July 1, 1971 petition asking the federal government to intervene, Minister of Indian Affairs Jean Chrétien and Assistant Deputy Minister John Ciaccia were reporting to the Commons Committee on Indian Affairs, and to the House of Commons, about the IQA. They said that between July 1971 and March 1972, Max Gros-Louis and Andrew Delisle of the IQA, together with two attorneys, met on a number of occasions with Quebec government and Hydro-Québec officials to negotiate matters relating to the James Bay Project. These meetings had no Cree participation, and the IQA refused the assistance offered by the Indian Affairs Department. In early April 1972, both Chrétien and Ciaccia insisted on several occasions that they did not know about or receive the petition signed by the Cree on July 1971.

Today we know why the petition was not received in Ottawa. Immediately after the document was signed in Mistissini on July 1, 1971, Gros-Louis on behalf of the IQA took the original of the Cree petition and informed the assembly that since the postal service was non-existent in Mistissini, he would send it on to his friend Jean Chrétien. However he did not do that. Instead, he kept it secret from the minister and officials of the Department of Indian Affairs for 10 months during which time he and the IQA team were meeting the Tripartite Committee primarily to seek Indian exemption from the Provincial Sales Tax. By a coincidence quite as amazing as a rabbit out of a magician’s hat, a couple of weeks after the provincial sales tax exemption for Quebec Indians was officially gazetted on March 11, 1972, the July 1, 1971 petition popped out of Gros-Louis’ headdress and the IQA forwarded it on to Chrétien, the Cree demand for federal intervention!

The House of Commons record shows that when Chrétien was scolded for not replying to the Cree petition of July 1, 1971, he vigorously denied ever having received it. However, when he got a letter from Chief Smally Petawabano and the councillors of the Mistissini Band complaining that the petition had been ignored, and reiterating a formal request for the department’s intervention, Chrétien quietly admitted to the House of Commons that Gros-Louis had sent him the missing petition the previous week.

Which is not to say that Chrétien and the Indian Affairs department officials were ignorant of the potential impact of the NBR project on the people over which the minister had a constitutional fiduciary responsibility. When queried on the matter, Chrétien assured the House of Commons that matters were under control since Gros-Louis and Desisle had told him that they had already engaged in several exchanges with senior Quebec politicians and Hydro-Québec officials on the James Bay Project. He reported to the House in April 1972 that on a number of occasions during the previous year the IQA had rejected the department’s offer to assist the Cree explaining that they did not want Ottawa to intervene in their ongoing negotiations with the Quebec government. The IQA did however take the community consultation funds in May 1971!

Looking back on those days from the perspective of 40 years it is clear to me that Chrétien was a serious backroom booster of Bourassa’s pet project; after all it meant major investments and thousands of jobs for his home province. It is also clear that the IQA wanted the project to proceed given that the organization seemed primarily interested in using the James Bay Project as a lever in their $5 billion land claim. There is nothing in the record to suggest that the IQA had any serious interest in the hunting and trapping way of life of the Cree and Inuit they claimed to represent. I conclude that if the youth of Mistissini had not forced the issue by making local people aware of the implications of the James Bay Project, and then bringing the matter to national attention in the House of Commons, the IQA and their advisors and supporters would have been successful in keeping the Cree out of serious negotiations. The northern communities would have been used as little more than bargaining chips in a game played for financial stakes in the boardrooms of Ottawa and Quebec by southern-based politicians and public servants. Such players were utterly ignorant – and uninterested – in the way of life that the Cree and Inuit later fought so hard to protect.

The complexity and implications of these historical events were probably more obscure than could be managed by the screenwriters of The Eeyouch of Eeyou Istchee or perhaps they been conveniently forgotten by today’s Ottawa-based Cree office that is producing the video. However if today’s youth want to know something of their history and have some appreciation of why certain things happened prior to and following on the inauguration of political life among the James Bay Cree in a Mistissini classroom in 1971, they will need to know something of the role of the Indians of Quebec Association in Indian life in Quebec in the 1960s and early 1970s.

Forty years ago, I was living in Waswanipi doing anthropological fieldwork. Looking back at my field notes I see that I went to Chibougamau on Monday, May 3, where I met Philip Awashish and his wife Ann Marie, who were with Edna Neeposh. We went to dinner where I learned that Philip had a summer job with a community animation project to improve Indian/white relations. His job was sponsored by the Conseil de développement social du nord-ouest Québec, an organization of senior mine managers, professional people and Anglican Church members from the Chibougamau/Chapais area – all whites. Funded through the Rouyn office of the federal Citizenship Department this summer grant was administered locally by Lise Grégoire, the wife of a Chibougamau doctor.

During our supper we had our first discussion of the James Bay Project, which had been announced the previous Friday. I told them that, from what I had garnered in the Saturday newspapers, the project involved damning the Nottaway, Rupert and Broadback rivers (the NBR Project) and from the rough sketches published, it would probably flood hunting territories in both Waswanipi and Mistissini. We all agreed that we had to get more information on this project into the hands of the Cree people. Since they were going to Rouyn to sign Philip’s contract, while there they would talk with government people to try to get more information. We agreed to meet on the following Saturday in Miquelon where they planned to visit Philip’s uncle, who was there cutting pulp.

On that following Saturday, May 8, they told me that one of the civil servants had dug up some preliminary maps showing the areas to be flooded which would inundate most of the hunting territory in the south and even Mistissini Post. Faced with this, they had decided to try to set up some sort of group to fight the James Bay Project separate from what they referred to as “Gros-Louis’ organization”. My notes record that they doubted whether the IQA really held the interests of northern Indians as a high priority. They, like most other young Indian university students in Montreal, saw the IQA as remote from the people in the north giving no feedback or information on the nature of the association’s activities, holding meetings in big hotels in the south with the leaders paying themselves large salaries. We decided to take these ideas to their spring camp just east of Mistissini to study the materials and mull over what could be done.

Chief Peter Gull of Waswanipi was living in Chapais so we stopped at his house overnight. This makes him the first Cree leader to hear of the notion of setting up an anti-James Bay Project organization. Peter was distressed to learn of the extent of the proposed flooding, especially when he saw that the site his Band had just chosen for their new community on the shores of Waswanipi Lake was to be about 20 feet under water. But he was hesitant to the notion of an anti-Hydro-Québec – essentially an anti-Quebec – organization. He had been to a couple of IQA meetings and was quite loyal to Gros-Louis. However, when Peter was shown Boyce Richardson’s article on the James Bay Project from the Monday edition of the Montreal Star, he began to warm up to Ann Marie’s and Philip’s idea of a local association to investigate the implications of flooding. Richardson knew the situation in the Cree communities having written a strong article on the deplorable condition of northern reserves following his visit to Rupert’s House the previous year where he had met Billy Diamond. His new article, which focussed on local reaction to the Bourassa’s announcement, was based on a telephone interview with Chief Diamond.

After some prompting, Peter agreed that a few things would be essential: 1) compensation for lost hunting territories; 2) jobs during the Hydro construction; and 3) maintenance of hunting rights in the regions affected – that is alternative hunting territories with transportation. I suggested that this be simplified to “a trapping life for those who want it”. As for the organization to fight the James Bay Project, the idea was simply to get funding for research to prepare material for public meetings where people could discuss matters as a group so they would not remain invisible.

It was a hard sell with Peter for he was a cautious leader and he feared a backlash on the Waswanipi people from Hydro-Québec or the Quebec government. “I don’t know, I will have to think about it,” he said. Ann Marie argued that as part of a large organization people could be direct with criticisms as long as they had the facts and the research to back them up, bringing proof to the table and not simply screaming about things. That, she said, is why people don’t like Gros-Louis of the IQA: “He screams but never brings any proof anywhere!”

Peter finally reacted to the comment that 25 feet of flooding would put Waswanipi River Bridge under water and hesitated when asked: “How is that going to affect the people in terms of how they think about bush life?” and “What are they going to think when they can’t go in the bush?” “Their future will be welfare.” The operation of the proposed association was explained to him: like the IQA, but on a smaller scale. They argued: “IQA spends too much of their government grants on high salaries for themselves and on useless things in the IQA offices and don’t put the money where people need it.” “They pay chiefs $40 a day to come to meetings, plus their room and board!” Peter interjected that people lose wages when they attend those meetings. The rebuttal was that our Bands should get money to pay their chiefs, just like they were doing out west. Being chief had now become a full-time job. That was something a northern association could fight for. Peter heartily agreed with that. To demonstrate the heavy workload of the modern unsalaried chief, he showed us the results of three years of hard work and bargaining: the plans for their proposed new community on the shores of Waswanipi Lake. Now five years of difficult meetings between the Waswanipi Band and both levels of senior government were to be washed away by the hydro project. He would have to start over from square one. Peter was convinced that local voices had to be heard and he agreed to come to the Mistissini meeting with his Band Council and a few hunters.

The next morning, May 10, Peter drove us to Chibougamau in his famous red Volkswagen Beetle. There we met Hattie Kitchen, who decided to come to Mistissini to help us get the spring camp organized. She told us with great glee the big joke around Dore Lake. Bally Husky, who could neither read nor write, had won a typewriter at a bingo game the previous week. Knowing that we were going to need to write some letters and petitions over the next week to seek further information and support, we found Bally and he agreed to lend us the Olivetti Portable – more or less the equivalent of an iPad in those days. So it was through Bally’s generosity that we had a machine to write the first letters of protest and requests for support to stop the James Bay Project. With typewriter in hand, we all piled into Chabot’s Taxi and drove up to Mistissini. There we found that Philip’s tent, which was set up in the bush some distance away from the community, had been broken into and some things stolen. Philip was very upset as theft from a closed tent was unheard of. Obviously things were already beginning to change in Mistissini.

Tuesday, May 11, was warm and sunny and we spent most of the morning in the camp getting it fixed up. Smally was away goose hunting (as was most of Mistissini) so we spent the afternoon studying the material Philip and Ann had picked up in Rouyn. We determined from the sketch maps that many hunting territories were to be flooded and that the damns and dykes would raise Mistissini Lake and Waswanipi Lake over 7 metres (21 feet) totally destroying these communities and what was left of Nemaska would be under water. The maps were small scale and we were going to have to retrace the flood lines on large maps for use at a public meeting. We noted that while the communities of Rupert’s House and Eastmain would not be flooded, a lot of their hunting grounds would be under water. We spent the rest of the day discussing what to put in our proposal for funding which we would take to the Indian Participation program. Then we typed some drafts of ideas for a northern association.

Wednesday, May 12, we worked on getting maps prepared for the meeting. I got some from Glen Speers, the HBC manager who told me he was pleased that the people were reacting to the potential land loss. Old Emmet MacLeod cheered me on when I went to ask him if he had any maps. In the afternoon, a couple of people from the Rouyn Citizenship office that Philip was working for came to visit and stayed overnight. We hoped they might help with a funding proposal. They talked a lot, but didn’t deliver anything useful. At that point we realized that we would have to go to Ottawa for support. Through his contacts at McGill University, Philip had met a senior official in the Citizenship Branch, which in those days had a considerable budget to support Indian initiatives. And, of course, there was Indian Affairs.

Smally returned from hunting on Thursday, May 13. Edna and Philip showed him the flooding information and asked him to hold a community meeting to show the people what Hydro-Québec was planning. He agreed to call it for May 15. The non-Cree visitors wanted to attend but were politely told to stay away because the local people were shy to talk when outsiders were present.

The first lines in my notes on this first public meeting to discuss the James Bay Project read: “The meeting was beautiful! People were slow in coming, but by 7:30 about 75 people were there – not bad considering that many people were still in the bush and others were out goose hunting.” It was entirely in Cree. Philip asked Charlie Brien to tell the people what he saw when he worked at the Manicouagan Dam. Smally, who had gone over the materials with the youth, explained the proposed project. People could see the flooding lines on the maps that had been prepared. Smally’s father Jean-Baptiste spoke, then Philip, then a few of the Elders. There was a lively animated discussion and many questions which Smally, Edna and Philip answered to the best of their ability based on the very limited information we had. The people were shocked (and scared). I particularly recall the reaction of one older woman who simply exclaimed in Cree several times, “The poor fish! The poor fish!” The people decided that they should ask the chiefs of Rupert’s House and Eastmain to come to Mistissini to have a study meeting since their lands would also be flooded. Smally then announced that he would commit some Band funds for a meeting in June. The question was raised as to whether Indian Affairs should be asked to come. The people said no. They wanted the meeting to be for the Cree and only in Cree, as they did not like translated meetings.

Tasks were assigned. Edna, Philip and Ann Marie were to plan the meeting and Louise Matoush was to find places for the guests to stay and to eat. Smally was to get in touch with the chiefs of Rupert’s House and Eastmain by radio-phone and invite them to come if we could find the $1000 needed to charter a Beaver to pick them up and take them back. He also offered to call his contacts in the Ottawa bureaucracy to look for the funds. In 1971, $1000 was a lot of money – more than a month’s wages for many. Philip was given the task of going to Montreal and Ottawa to use his contacts at the CBC and McGill to get more information on the project and seek support. We went back to Philip’s spring camp to type out more proposals, letters and petitions on Bally’s borrowed Olivetti. Before I left, I went over to ask Smally if I could come to the June meeting. He agreed. Then I returned to Waswanipi.

My James Bay notes next record that on Saturday, May 22, when I returned to Montreal from Waswanipi, I went over to see Philip and Ann Marie at Madeline Lefebvre’s, who was an anthropologist from Université de Montréal. I asked Philip if he had phoned Roger Pothier, who had done anthropological work in Mistissini and Nemiscau and who now worked in Ottawa and could guide him to the right people in Indian Affairs. He said that he would phone Roger before he went to Ottawa on Wednesday, May 26, to look up his contact at the Citizenship Branch and see about some other things at Indian Affairs. He and Ann Marie had been working on collecting information on the James Bay Project and getting some audio-visual material. Philip told us that Boyce Richardson interviewed him.

On Tuesday, May 25, Philip phoned me to say that he had talked with Roger in Ottawa who told him that Ernie McEwan now had Goodwill’s job. Bad news. Philip no longer had a personal contact at the Citizenship Branch. More bad news. Roger had heard that Smally had already called Indian Affairs for funding only to be informed that the funds for community consultation meetings about the James Bay Project had already been allocated to the IQA and that the Band would have to ask the IQA for assistance. Philip cancelled his planned trip to Ottawa. He told me that he was taken aback to learn that Ottawa has already provided the IQA with significant consultation funds without consulting the northern people actually affected. He planned to phone Roger back later to see if there might be other possibilities. He wanted to explain that money from the IQA and their involvement at this time could destroy the whole purpose of the need for local meetings. Fundamentally, this was to do no more than animate the northern people and have them learn something about the implications of the James Bay Project. He asked me if he could use the McGill-Cree Project offices to rewrite the funding proposal and talk about what might be done.

When I arrived at the McGill-Cree office the next morning, May 26, Philip was there. He had already tried to phone Roger but couldn’t get through. He had talked to Edna (in Chibougamau) on the previous evening and was told that Smally had received a call from Quebec about a meeting with Hydro-Québec, the IQA and maybe Indian Affairs. The information was confused and she jokingly described it as a “mysterious call”. Edna also told him that Smally got an invitation to an executive meeting of the IQA to be held in Quebec City on June 15. She was unsure if he would go, but if he did not, she thought that Chief Gull of Waswanipi would be invited. Neither Edna nor Philip knew the names of the executive of the IQA to contact for further information. Philip then phoned Smally to find out what was happening but Smally had no information when Philip asked him if the IQA meeting was about the James Bay Project. Edna laughed when Philip suggested that they might approach the IQA for funds. She was sure that Gros-Louis had already heard of their activities and was trying to sabotage their proposed meeting.

We discussed other funding possibilities with McGill anthropologists. IQA sourcing seemed out of the question because the northern youth had even less trust in the IQA leadership now that they announced to the press that the IQA would seek a James Bay Project settlement to include all Quebec Indian land claims based on the unfulfilled obligations of the 1898 and 1912 Boundary Extensions to Quebec’s north. More galling was that before making their announcement, the IQA neglected to consult with the northern people who actually would be harmed by the project. The Cree youth had already concluded that the IQA had little interest in stopping the project but only wanted to use a firm northern land claim in order to settle weaker southern claims. This would result in most benefits remaining in the south rather than in the region.

But quite aside from funding for a northern association, Mistissini immediately needed about $1000 for a plane charter if the meeting was to happen at all. Philip finally decided to swallow his pride and phone Gros-Louis for the money only to be told that he was in Fort George (Chisasibi). With no funds from government and nothing that could be tapped from McGill’s Anthropology Department’s small research budgets to help Philip, we all felt quite bleak and were sure that the proposed meeting would have to be called off. It was then that the Department Chairman Richard Salisbury suggested that we approach Eric Gordeau, who at that time was a senior researcher at the well-funded Arctic Institute at McGill. So, on June 2, 1971, with an introduction from Professor Salisbury, Philip and I met him to make our case.

Gordeau greeted us warmly. When Philip made his case, Gordeau thought for no more than a moment before telling him that the Arctic Institute had a special research project called “Man in the North”, which focused on developing communications strategies in the north espe