The Indigenous Initiative for Peace (IIP) visited the Cree recently. The IIP said it was an honour to meet with the Cree nations in Quebec to look at the Cree situation on traditional lands and the impact of resource exploitation. Colombian Senator Francisco Rojas Birry thanked the Crees for their hospitality and said his people in Colombia know too well the experiences and impacts of clearcutting, dams and mines upon Aboriginal Peoples. “We will be looking at the political and environmental impacts,” Birry said. He told the press gathered that “if you aren’t honest enough to write the truth then there will be no harmony. Media must educate the people because the problems of the Crees are your problems. What affects them affects you.”
His words were echoed by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Rigoberta Menchu Turn, founder of the IIP, who expressed shock and outrage at the clear-cutting in Eeyou Istchee after visiting Ouje-Bougoumou around June 10th.
A declaration made by the IIP concerning the forestry activities in Eeyou Istchee read in part that forestry “constitutes an assault on the society, economy, culture and spirituality of the Cree People.” It also said that forestry confers little if any benefit to the Cree and “deprives the Cree People of its own means of subsistance.”
The declaration mentions that Canada was reminded by the United Nations Human Rights Committee in April of 1999 that all peoples, including indigenous peoples, have the right of self-determination and thus have the right to dispose of their natural wealth and resources and well as not being deprived of their own means of subsistance.
It also mentions the numerous breaches to the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement and the removal of the judge in the forestry case.
It says that the IIP and member organizations support the Crees in their efforts to protect the boreal forest and to “defend and assert their fundamental rights.” As well, the IIP Declaration called upon the governments of Quebec and Canada to stop clearcutting and allowing the forestry activities to continue without Cree consent.