Violet Pachanos said she was honoured to have Chisasibi host the 6th Annual Cree Nation Gathering. The Gathering took place from August 7-9, 2001 and saw Crees from all over Canada show up. Pachanos said she liked the fact that the Gathering brought together so many people “who want to make a better life for our people and their local economies.” This year’s theme was about business, after all. “It was a successful Gathering,” said Pachanos.

Among the invitees who didn’t show up was the Governor-General of Canada who instead sent a message of “warmest greetings.” The GG said she has spoken to Aboriginal Peoples about “trying to bridge traditional lives and the modem age,” something that should be combined with practical wisdom she feels. She hoped the Gathering would help the Crees decide what is best for “your people.”

Chief Rod Whitney extended his best wishes to the James Bay Cree from the western Crees. He honoured Steven Bearskin and referred to National Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come warmly. He said that things were going better for Natives and gave proof of that. He said that there was a 700 per cent increase in self-employed or Native-owned businesses and that Aboriginal businesses were a major source of jobs for people on reserves. An interesting statistic he brought up was that Aboriginal people today are two times as likely to operate and own their own business as non-Natives.

Another speaker was James Bobbish who talked about diabetes and the need for more resources for clinical and prevention needs. “This is a common problem for all Crees everywhere,” he said. Bobbish also talked about the trip through the Heartland of Eeyou Istchee and how that helped to get the dialysis machines so desperately needed by the Cree patients. Bobbish said it all started with a letter from a Cree woman who was in Matagami. Her letter inspired the late James Shecapio.

Bobbish said that this is how partnerships happen. “It was a small beginning that had an extraordinary result,” said Bobbish. There was a screening of a video on the walk that was moving.

During the day there were meals available, at no cost, of traditional foods. They were tasty as I can attest. The company was good in the tents.

In the evenings there were concerts. The host was an Inuit. As a matter of fact, he was the famous crying Inuit. You may have heard his song called “I miss my girlfriend” where he breaks down in tears and cries while singing. It brought tears of laughter to many and he broke the laughter to the evening shows. The musicians were from all over the Cree Nation, within and without Eeyou Istchee.

All in all Chisasibi deserves a round of applause for what they did.