The hearings on Hydro-Quebec’s proposed Rupert River diversion, whether in the Cree communities or outside, are always of interest to the Nation staff. Those we couldn’t attend in person we listened to on JBCCS’s Cree Radio Network as did many Crees. We also went on the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and the Public Information websites to pick up information and see what was happening.
To our surprise, we discovered that former Grand Chief Dr. Ted Moses would be speaking at the hearings. Naturally we were curious as to what he had to say.
He started off with a personal history going into a Cree history of development leading up to the Paix des Braves Agreement. He promoted himself as a visionary who looked to a future where the hurts and past pains of relations between Aboriginal Peoples and the governments would be put aside to adopt a realistic vision for the future. He would say the diversion wasn’t simply dumped on the Crees but was first proposed in 1998-99. Crees at this time declined the invitation to become partners with Hydro-Quebec.
Moses said that when the Paix des Braves was announced Cree media outlets took a position against the agreement and showed little sympathy for people who benefited from the jobs and services provided by the agreement.
“This is only the tip of the iceberg that I present to you about the half-truths, outright lies and misrepresentations made by the Cree media against the Paix des Braves and against me personally,” said Moses. “I will not forget this and I believe the Cree media owe the Crees an apology for their unprofessional behaviour.”
That is quite a statement and in itself quite erroneous. In a later interview with Rodrick Rabbitskin on CBC North, Moses was asked to be more specific and named Beesum Communications, the Nation and CBC North. Left out was the CRN and local radio stations even though they were initially tarred by the same brush.
Now to specifics; CBC North reporters had their material vetted by the CBC lawyers. It is pretty hard to get away with half-truths, distortions and outright lies when that happens.
Beesum Communications is merely the publisher of the Nation and every story we published was handled in a professional manner. In our editorials we questioned the manner, the timeline and speed with which the Paix des Braves was being adopted. We also pushed for a proper referendum. We did not take sides but allowed individual Crees extra room in the magazine for letters and opinions considering the importance of this issue. At one point we even requested more letters from the pro-agreement camp as we felt we were getting so many letters against it.
The Nation does not apologize for this as we were trying to give as large a voice as possible to the Cree people. There are still many outstanding issues and questions that need to be addressed with the Paix de Braves. It is very unfortunate for the former grand chief’s credibility that he would use his time in the hearings deciding the fate of the Rupert River as a forum to air his personal grievances against his perceived enemies. This unprovoked attack only distorts the real issues at hand.
The Nation has always been fair in covering both sides of the Paix des braves Agreement and we feel (and can prove) that we have definitely been more than fair to Moses in providing space to make arguments supporting the agreement. Anything less would be a disservice to our readers and the Cree people.