The Cree days of darkness imposed on us by Hydro-Quebec appear to be sliding into the past. Their electricity has made our homes and, now, some Cree lives brighter.
A number of years ago I wrote an article entitled “Inside The Evil Empire,” a tongue-in-cheek attempt at being the Cree version of Hunter S. Thompson. At the time I had met one of the very few Crees working in a permanent job for Hydro-Quebec.
Our Hydro-Quebec guide to LG2 and all its glory criticized the Nation for its story on Hydro-Quebec’s failure to provide the 150 jobs they promised Crees. He felt we were being unfair.
As for the Cree employee, I had jokingly called him a traitor to his own people. I would say that I am ashamed today, but I am not. At the time it was nearly appropriate, given the fight the Crees were in to stop the Great Whale Project.
Today, however, the peace pipe has been lit and smoked with great gusto by the Cree and Hydro-Quebec. No longer would it be right to jokingly refer to a Cree as a traitor for working for Hydro-Quebec. The times have changed and rightly so even as we keep a wary eye on future plans.
Today there are many Crees who have benefited, either through contracts or employment, from the latest projects.
These thoughts came to me when I was in Sin City, aka Sodom and Gomorrah, aka Val d’Or, for the Niskamoon golf tournament and Graduation. Fifteen Cree souls had completed their training and were on their way to permanent jobs with Hydro-Quebec.
It’s a new age that started long before Harper’s apology that is a result of a change in the cultures of both the Cree and Hydro-Quebec.
It definitely is tied to the Crees accepting the responsibility to take over the obligations under the JBNQA the provincial and federal governments couldn’t handle. Of course this gives the Cree Nation more steps towards self-government. Never forget we had always had control over our destinies.
But the point here is that we are changing as a people and a culture and it is reflected in our leaders and in our peoples’ mindsets.
No longer do we have traitors (even jokingly). Now we have people going out and working to make a living. One former student, now employed by Hydro-Quebec, nailed it when she said it is “a very good living at that.”
I could never write another story, given the current status, called “Inside The Evil Empire.”
I did talk to Hydro-Quebec saying the Crees aren’t looking at giving up another river but we are willing to talk wind power and the benefits it could bring to both the Cree and Hydro-Quebec. The times have changed and so have we all.