Battle for the Rupert 

 

 

    NEWS INDEX
 

.

Giving away the river 10/29/01

  .

Commentary: Crees surrender their great river Rupert

  . Commentary: 25 years of force-fed acculturation
  .

Cree deal a model or betrayal? 12/10/01

  .

$3.6 billion deal unraveling 12/10/01

  . Hydro Quebec's hidden agenda 12/15/01
  . Cree leaders may have deal in a week 12/19/01
  .

Grand Chief Moses Quebec's hero 12/19/01

 

  DEFINITIONS
 

AIP  Agreement in Principle signed on the Rupert River, Oct. 23/01

 

CRA  Cree Regional Authority, the administrative government

 

Eeyou Istchee  Cree homeland. Meaning:  People's Land

 

Eeyouch  Cree people

 

GCCEI   Grand Council of the Crees, governing body of Cree Nation whose members are chiefs of the nine communities

 

JBNQA James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (1975), the first agreement

 

NBR   Nottaway-Broadback

-Rupert Project, to be phase III of James Bay Project

 

Interview

National Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come

Matthew Coon Come is currently the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations and former grand chief of the Grand Council of the Crees of Quebec.

The Nation: I see that you are putting your support behind the Agreement. What do you like about it?

National Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come: Iíve been chief and the Grand Chief for most of those years and the Coon Come case that dealt with obligations of the federal and provincial governments, the forestry court cases and the court case we launched against the technical description of the La Grande project of 1975 where we said it required Cree consent and the projects couldnít go through. When we went to the communities and I was the one who explained the court cases on forestry, Great Whale and NBR, on the outstanding and unfulfilled obligations of the federal and provincial governments we told the people the reason we were going to court was because the governments felt they fulfilled their obligations and they didnít feel they needed to sit down with us and talk. Our strategy was to use the legal system so the courts would recognize the unfulfilled obligations of the governments. We knew the courts wouldnít say this is how much you should get but that it would have to be negotiated. All the cases were to say you needed Cree consent and involvement. That was the message. We needed to convey the message that we want a share of the resources extracted from Cree land. Thatís the background.

The Agreement in Principle, as outlined to me, shows that Grand Chief Ted Moses has taken the initiative and the timing was right. I must commend him for his efforts. The same with Premier Laundry for realizing that he has to involve the Crees. Certainly the Agreement from the outset provides some form of resource revenue sharing and it looks at employment opportunities. It deals with issues we have all been talking about. That we want to participate in the economy. I remember a person told me and said one truckload of forestry logs is worth $100,000 and not a penny goes to us. That told me they want a share in the resource extraction. I think some of the principles are there.

One of the greatest challenges for leaders is that they have to know when to fight and you have to know when to sign a deal. I think that Ted signed at the right time. Now itís up to the Cree people to give their decision on whether they will accept it or not.

All of us will have to assess it in terms of our previous involvement in previous projects. When I was involved between 1987 and 1995 in opposition to projects where they were going to flood eight rivers, now because of the Rupertís and Eastmain rivers, they are talking about maybe just one project. It is still subject to environmental impact assessment. Weíll have an opportunity to look at resource development.

In my view itís like a hunter. He will go out and look for game. He will not come back and say I think I saw some caribou and maybe I should ask you. He will shoot it and ask his people to help him. He will say to the people this is what I got. He will say there are more out there, can you come and help me? So Ted has brought something and as a leader will say this is what I was able to get, now you decide.

As a leader you have to take a position, are you for this agreement or against it. As a leader Ted is certainly promoting it saying this is what I got and I agree in principle. Itís the same journey in the past when negotiations were done. Then Grand Chief Billy Diamond, Philip Awashish and Ted Moses, they went and sat down with the government and came back and said this is what we have. They went through a process of consultations, information meetings and debates. Then the Cree People voted on whether or not to accept the JBNQA.  

Reprinted with permission of  The Nation

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