for complete and full participation
by Will Nicholls
Agreement in Principle was one of the most closely guarded secrets in
Quebec. At this point it's difficult to discern everything it could mean
for the Cree. Upon reading it, I will say I have reservations about the
deal, especially because of the Rupert River diversion, among other
the crux of the matter for me is the idea that the chiefs can sign on our
behalf without a vote or some other mechanism whereby the Cree people as a
whole will manifest their will.
Moses in his interview said he would have
no problem with a referendum but seemed to waffle on whether there would
be one or not. He has stated there would be a consultation process but in
reality that means almost nothing. It means he will be talking to people
and taking a few questions. It doesn’t address whether or not a mandate
by the people is given to sign the deal.
reason I bring this up is someone in the office mentioned that a chief had
said they could sign on the people’s behalf because they were elected to
do so. Yes there is signing authority granted to the position of a leader
but it only morally extends so far.
if Premier Landry, in his vision for an independent Quebec, just said,
“You elected me and you knew I was a separatist so we are going to
separate immediately.” It didn’t happen because he and his party knows
the importance of a legitimate mandate to separate requires not only the
political will but also the will of the people by way of a referendum. In
the meantime they still sign deals with the Federal Government on health
and other issues.
this way the Agreement-in-principle is something that requires more than
just the political will of the chiefs. It requires the will of the Cree
people as a whole. This is not a day-to-day or year-to-year Agreement, it
is a three-to-four generation Agreement. It is one that will effectively
kill another river and directly impact three communities. It is one that
if not honoured in full will leave us more vulnerable than before. It
promises great things, and like the JBNQA and other agreements we have
entered into the past, has the potential for a positive impact.
it cannot be a decision made by a few who will decide what is best for us.
That mentality went out with the Indian Agent even though Indian Affairs
Minister Robert Nault seems to be trying to revive it with his own round
of consultation talks. If the Cree leadership has said his method of
consultations concerning Native Governance is wrong then so is this Cree
consultation process if there is no mechanism where the Cree people and
not just the Cree leadership can vote on this issue. Anything else smacks
This is the message we have to pass on to our leaders: We deserve a say in determining the future of Eeyou Istchee just as much as they do. The Cree people are not content to be an audience to a decision on our future. We demand and require full participation in all such far-reaching matters.
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