Cree trapper and tallyman Freddy Jolly is back in the news once again.

The latest articles are from La Presse. They concern a court case launched by roughly 350 trappers against Cree Construction, SDBJ (James Bay Development Society) and the federal and Quebec governments.

This all started three years ago when Nemaska tallyman Freddy Jolly got angry over what had and since then has happened to the land in his care. Jolly’s trapline was impacted by the Route du Nord, along with other traplines.

Back then Freddy fought his battle alone. Today Freddy has the consent of eight other tallymen and this changes the legalities of the situation. Now it is a class action suit, meaning there is more than one person is involved.

This was enough for the Fond D’Aide Aux Recours Collectifs to give $46,500 to proceed with the compensation case. The money will be used for legal fees, the hiring of experts, court fees and public notices to other beneficiaries wanting to join the court action. Francois Robert, the case lawyer, said the 350 trappers involved are asking for several million in damages.

The Fond D’Aide Aux Recours Collectifs said they felt the case was strong enough to warrant funding because the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement doesn’t allow public authorities to ignore the rights of Crees during development projects. Also, the law says when you are being asked to let go of your property, it must be done by the law and there must be fair and just compensation for it.

Francois Robert says the legal action has a lot of rights involved—the rights under the James Bay Agreement, Aboriginal and constitutional rights, the right to development as well as hunting, fishing and trapping rights.

And of course what Freddy has been saying he is entitled to—the right of fair and just compensation.

Freddy’s case will also be arguing that the governments have abused their fiduciary responsibilities of protecting Natives in awarding a contract that they knew would harm the Cree trappers along the Route du Nord. Robert says he is confident of winning the case because the criteria for receiving the money from the Fond D’Aide Aux Recours Collectifs is the same as the court’s criteria for winning the case.

When asked about Cree Construction being a project proponent, Robert answered with a question of his own: “Do you think a Cree company signing a contract is an automatic waiver of Native or Cree beneficiary rights? I don’t think you would like that sort of thing to happen, would you?”

Robert ended our talk by saying, “If Freddy loses, what it means is no compensation for any of the rights under the agreement. I think this would be a bad precedent.”

As for Freddy Jolly, the man who started all this, he says, “It’s been two years since I tried to solve this. I’ve met with Cree Construction. Nothing happened.”

“I’ve tried other ways and nothing happened. I always said court was the last thing.

Now I’ve met with the funding agency. They read my lips. We are at the last resort,” said Freddy.