Trappers were reacting with concern to news that the Board of Compensation has rejected a request to fund a trappers’ support program.
The program was already approved by the Council/Board of the Cree leadership.
It was intended to help trappers affected by forestry, who are under pressure to sign vague compensation deals with forestry companies offering small sums of money.
Many believe the deals pose a risk to Cree rights and efforts to save Cree traplines from devastation.
The program was originally supposed to provide $560,000 to trappers each year, with a maximum of $10,000 per trapline. This was scaled back to $480,000, but even that didn’t save the program.
The Board of Compensation, which manages $157 million in Cree assets, said it didn’t have enough money available, according to reports.
The idea has had a lot of support in the communities for several years. Resolutions of support have been passed by the Band Councils of Mistissini and Nemaska, and at the Cree Special General Assembly on resource development in O.J. in 1996.
Board chairman Rod Pachano didn’t return calls. His wife, Board financial analyst Janie Pachano, reacted warily when asked about the program, saying, “I’m nervous now that you’re talking to me.” She refused to explain the Board’s decision. “I can’t make any comments to anybody. I’m just an employee here.”
A CRA official said the trappers’ support program wasn’t killed because chiefs decided to suspend action on the $600-million-plus Cree forestry lawsuit, launched this summer. “It has nothing to do with the court case,” he said, adding, “The idea is still there. It’s still alive.”
One trapper was disappointed the program wasn’t supported. “The trappers have been taken hostage again. They’re justthrown aside,” he said. “I was kind of sad when I found out. More than sad, angry.Here was this trapper expecting it tomorrow. But, man, it’s been shot down. Thegoose they bred was shot before it flew. First, the forestry case, now this.”