When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for the Cree to dissolve the economic bonds which have connected them with one another, and to combine them, creating an economic engine, the separate and equal station to which the laws of Quebec and of a constitutionally protected agreement entitled them, a decent respect to the opinions of the whole Cree Nation requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the dissolution, and reorganization leading to an establishment of a new economic reality.
Perhaps I have stolen and paraphrased from United States Declaration of Independence, but I feel it is appropriate. Recently a letter found its way into the Nation offices. It concerned Grand Council/CRA Board resolution 2011-07 that looks at the establishment of the Cree Development Corporation (CDC). It also looks at dissolving the Board of Compensation, Niskamoon, the James Bay Eeyou Companee, the Cree Regional Economic Enterprises and putting CreeCo under the CDC. It looks at streamlining Cree economic entities.
I agree to a certain extent we have to look after our businesses and our entities that take care of our money. Is this the answer? I don’t know, but I was surprised at the resolution. Even more, I was concerned as the person who put forth the resolution, Chief Rusty Cheezo of Eastmain sent a letter to Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come saying the resolution, which had been written after the meeting, did not reflect what he and Chief Louise Wapachee had proposed.
Cheezo said he confirmed with other chiefs the resolution wasn’t what they had discussed. Cheezo said the first stage was to look at the feasibility and the wisdom of the plan. Afterwards there was to be a discussion with two of the financial entities. A committee was to be created to look at all the pros and cons and come up with recommendations on how to proceed. Only then Cheezo felt could a decision be made and it would have required another resolution to implement the Council/Board’s final decision. “Nothing would to be started until we found out what all this would mean,” said Cheezo.
Cheezo said mistakes were made in the resolution but wouldn’t say anything concerning the corporate secretary who wrote the resolution. “I was surprised but I’ll wait until the next Council/Board meeting before anything can be said,” Cheezo told the Nation.
I agree with that sentiment and his stance. In looking at the Board of Compensation and its mandate concerning CreeCo, I like the fact their board is made up of elected members from each Cree community. The CDC board of directors consists of five members appointed, not elected, by the Cree and another five appointed by Quebec. The chair will be appointed by the Cree after consulting with Quebec.
Just in terms of self-governance and accountability this seems a step back. No longer would we have people accountable to members in each community as a result of the change unless we changed the way the CDC works under the Paix des Braves Agreement. More importantly the economic actions and plans would be overseen or at least observed by Quebec government appointees. Cree control of our future would be diminished in that way.
What would we get in return? There are a lot of unanswered questions. Hopefully some of them will be answered at the next Council/Board meeting. The Nation will attend as actions concerning Cree money and our version of Crown Corporations concern us all and should be transparent.