Crees are vital to Chibougamau’s economy and their contributions to the town need to be better appreciated, says the local chamber of commerce.
“Crees make up 50 per cent of the commerce of the city. The client is always right,” said Jocelyn Gagné, an administrator for the chamber of commerce and local businessman.
“I felt there were certain attitudes we had to work on. Our goal is to inform better the merchants about the importance of Cree clients.”
After reports of discrimination against Crees in The Nation, Gagné said the chamber grew concerned about losing Cree business. He blamed simple misunderstandings for some of the problems—“little incidents that are blown out of proportion.”
In February and early March, Gagné and other Chibougamau business representatives met with leaders in the three closest Cree communities to discuss the problems and possible solutions. Chiefs Abel Bosum and John Kitchen, Anna Bosum, Paul Wertman, Abel Neeposh and Étienne Mabasi were in on the meetings.
Gagné is now working on an “action plan” to improve relations between Crees and the town.