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

  DOCUMENT:  

Agreement in Principle

Letters to the editor

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A bad agreement

October 23, 2001 marked a very important day in the lives of the James Bay Cree.  This was the day that the Cree leadership signed an agreement in principle with the Quebec Government.  This is the shocking news I (a Mistissini Cree) received on the morning the agreement was signed.  The first thought that came to my head was, this cant be true, our leaders wouldnt sign any form of agreement without consenting us(the people) first.  However, as the morning went on and as the news kept coming in, I learned that they had indeed signed an agreement with the government!!  Our leaders tried to justify their actions by saying that they felt it was within their power to make this kind of decision without seeking the consent of the people that put them in leadership, us.  I understand that this agreement was one made in principle, but it put our nation a lot closer to signing it without knowing it.  The next thing I asked myself is why our leaders would try to become partners with a government that has mistreated our people since the day they set foot on our land?  The Grand Chief, Ted Moses, says that we must put the past behind us and not dwell on it, also, that we must learn to trust.  I was always of the opinion that we as individuals and as a people learn from the past, which is why we cant put it behind us.  The past is a vital part of our everyday lives, without it we would trust anyone regardless of what they did to us in the past.  The government has given us many reasons not to trust them, I have not seen them give us any reasons why we should trust them.

On October 30, 2001 the Grand Chief along with John Longchap and other chiefs met with the people of Mistissini.  I was fortunate enough to attend this meeting, however my brother, my sisters, my cousins and many friends could not attend because they are down south pursuing post secondary education.  They too are being affected by this agreement and yet they cant represent their views because of the limited time we have to sign the agreement.  I hope that this letter can provide them with a glimpse of what took place in Mistissini.  The feeling I got from the meeting was that our leaders had already consented to the agreement and all its content, and now they were trying to convince us to do the same.  If you look at it from my point of view, you will see the government and our leaders on the same side because they both want us to consent to the agreement. On the other side is us, the people who are largely against the agreement.  I say largely because the majority of the people I heard speak are against it or they need more time to consider.  I thought that our leaders represented the views of the people and not just their own.  While I was discussing the meeting in Mistissini with other people, we talked about how the Grand Chief was talking about his hunting ground that he inherited from his father.  Part of his land is to be flooded in the proposed EM1/Rupert Diversion Project and he said he is willing to make that sacrifice for our future generations.  If the Grand Chief is to receive a substantial monetary compensation for the flooding of his land, wouldnt this put him in a conflict of interest in signing the agreement?

I have studied the documents surrounding this agreement and I also saw the fancy presentation at the public meeting, none of them has come close to convincing me that the Crees should sign the agreement.  Actually, they have done the exact opposite.  The views that I have expressed in this letter are of a moral nature, feelings and questions that came from the heart.  I have also considered the technical aspect of the agreement and that too leaves many questions unanswered, I am confident that these issues can be addressed by Crees that are studying in the fields related to this agreement.  I can see that this agreement has too many holes in it for the Crees to sign it; which brings me to my final question: 

Why cant our leaders see this agreement for what it really is... a bad one!

Kenneth Casey MacLeod

Mistissini Cree Youth  

To Grand Chief Ted Moses & the

Grand Council of the Crees of Quebec

The following concerns have come to my attention, in light of the situation that the Crees of Eeyou Estchee are facing at this time. Finding the right solutions, which will benefit all aspects involved within this dilemma, not just the people but also including the land and what that has offered to our people since time immemorial. Any decision will greatly affect the future of us as a nation, but only the right decision will help us as a people in knowing where we have originated from, which is the land. I hope by making you aware of my concerns that it may assist you to look back and consider the overwhelming situation that befalls the environment around our people at this present time. Maybe these words will help you see the cause for my concerns as a Cree, speaking for Eeyou Estchee.

   At the Natural Resources Assembly there were some statements and resolutions from the people. Did they mean anything?

   In your acceptance speech as Grand Chief to the people; you said that no trapper has the right to sell his or her trapline, going back to our teaching that we belong to the land.

   Values of our culture that we are one with the land, that we cannot own what was given to us by chissamendo and that we certainly dont have the right to sell it at any price.

   Are we being played into tying our hands and becoming part of an election process by the Quebec Government and to have separation become a reality?

   Crees have always had a structure of democracy, which was always there in the history of our people, and it is inclusion. When coming to decisions that concerned the people, all the people were included.

   Where is the good faith in the agreement, by the Government of Quebec? They have always dictated what they wanted and have always told us what we can do or say on how we live our lives. It has come to a breaking point for our future to live as a recognized people that are the original people of Eeyou Estchee.

   The Innu Nation has asked the Cree, Inuit, and Naskapi to stand for their own status as original people of this land. Making our own Government as Cree People.

      Nation-to-Nation can never happen with Quebec because in history there was only one Nation which our ancestors made treaties with and that was the crown.

   The Quebec Government and Hydro have always given us monies but have always had the last word on where and how we can spend it. If we do not follow the rules, they stop giving and our people suffer.

   Where are the guarantees on the continuation that the monies will keep coming for the next 50 years after they have gotten what they wanted? I am speaking on the changes to the Governments and the promises by the Quebec Government that they will continue to give us the monies for the duration of the Agreement.

      Sections 2.1 and 25.2 of the J.B.N.Q.A. have released and ceded all our rights as Cree people and why are we confirming what was written by entering into another Complimentary Agreement? Are we saying that we agree with what written in the J.B.N.Q.A?

   If the J.B.N.Q.A. is a modern day treaty as it is taken for granted, why was it not translated into Cree for our elders and our people?

   Why was our youth not educated and told of the true meaning in the contents of what the history of the J.B.N.Q.A. really states?

   The J.B.N.Q.A. didnt work because it had no implementation agreement on specifying who was to carry out what was written in the Agreement. What will happen to this Agreement in principal? It has no implementation agreement, are our children going to come back to the table in 25 years like Romeo Saganash has pointed out in his statement?

   I believe that the reason we had the court cases against the Government was to show them that we have rights, which no agreements can ever take away from us as people, because GOD gave these rights.

   Our people still need healing from all the negative forces that have cut the meaning and link to the land, which was given to us as Cree people. When we begin to heal we find the values and the teachings that our elders still carry and have learned, this is the same knowledge that our people have taken millions of years to gain. How can we not use this wisdom for the betterment of our people?

   How do we as a people look now to the outside world, who have stood with us as our allies in helping us put a stop to some of the devastating projects that were to take place on Eeyou Estchee.

   The land will always outlast any amount of money that they give us.

      J.B.N.Q.A. took two years to bring to a reality with eight months of intense negotiations and we called this duress. The Agreement in Principal now on the table is asking to be ratified in two months; dont you think that the principle of duress is playing a big role in this process?

   How come we never asked for any of the land back in this agreement that was lost in the J.B.N.Q.A. in 1975?

   Why didnt we ask for free electricity for our people?  I am sure that this option is not too much to ask in spite of all the devastation that has come to the land and the environment that our people are facing at this time.

   In closing, I recall the teaching of one of our elders who said; to know who you are is to know the history of your people, the history of the land and the life it brings to us as a people, and the history of the language, and that all that we are today, is carried within the language. Knowing the meaning of this teaching will guide you in passing on the culture of our people, as Eeouch of Eeyou Estchee.

Yours in Brotherhood,

Eric R. House

Concerned Cree

Reprinted with permission of  The Nation

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