The towns of Matagami and Lebel-sur-Quévillon were officially welcomed into the Secretariat to the Cree Nation Abitibi-Témiscamingue Economic Alliance at a meeting on November 17. The announcement was made by Secretariat President Ted Moses at the organization’s headquarters in Val-d’Or.

The Secretariat, created almost a decade ago, connects the region’s mayors, Elders and business leaders. As an outgrowth of the Paix des Braves agreement between the Cree Nation and the Quebec government, the new links are meant to strengthen the territory’s economy.

Secretariat coordinator Pierre Ouellet explained some of the benefits of membership in the group.

“It opens doors very easily,” he said. “It forges institutional partnerships through our liaison service. Our organization wants to make sure the people in the territory benefit economically. It has served as a model for economic cooperation in other places, for example, in Ontario.”

Moses affirmed the association’s goals: to foster mutual respect and economic growth among the Cree nations and the entrepreneurs in Abitibi-Témiscamingue.

“We have, and will continue, to work to create alliances which benefit the development of our regions,” he said at the news conference announcing the towns’ membership.