Battle for the Rupert 





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



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


Agreement in Principle

Letters to the editor

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Hello Everyone

Without Prejudice,

The new and now the most famous agreement in the aboriginal world has not only disturbed our people but has created a division among us and beyond.

It’s like a quiet sickness that has crawled in the middle of the night into the most sensitive elements of our nation’s ecosystem.

Life for the Cree has had many twists and turns over the years externally, internally and some that fit in the natural category. Natural events that helped us grow to become who we are today.

The most recent actions by our leaders is beyond words. In the last few days, our lives have been filled with questions, confusion, anger, anticipation and so on, but most important of all - it has brought each of us  the time to reflect on our history and naturally to put some thought to our future, our children‘s and the generations to come.

Approximately three decades ago similar events took place. Our grandparents put their older youth at the front lines to negotiate a future for us all. A historic agreement they said when they signed the JBNQA. An agreement that paved the way for our people to be one of the most recognized nations in the world community, but it was also an agreement that was supposed to pave the way for future development in our lands. Another Quebec Premier’s vision at the time.

The spirit and intent from the Cree perspective back in those days was simple. Take control of health and social services, education, economic development, etc. and administer our own affairs. We did most of that, but what happened to the rest of it? This is a question I personally need time to answer or should I be the one to answer, I don’t know but I am trying to put my own pieces together.

There is a land out there with the most beautiful sights the eye can see, incredible sounds the world’s ears can hear and enjoy. These sights and sounds tell the story of our people the generations to come would probably enjoy to hear beside a campfire, but nothing would more enjoyable if they would be given that same chance our generation has had. 

There is a land out there that basically has one protector left in this world and that is YOU. There is land out there with natural habitat that depend on it and we depend on both. All the money in the world cannot even afford the price tag for this land. It is a natural gift that cannot be sold - like the morning you wake up and hear the cry of a new born child who has been brought to you to care and love. Priceless as they say. Priceless.

We are a people that decide what feels right from deep inside and not what we think is right. We will decide together not only for us, but for the future generations, the animals, the birds, the fish, the trees, the lakes and ponds, and the rivers that carry our story and their rapids that sing the songs of our people.


In brotherhood,

Bertie Wapachee

A Better Process

The process by which this Agreement in Principle was reached disrespects the Cree people on so many levels. First, we have always been a nation that abides by a traditional law or custom that has endured for 1000’s of years - we give respect to our people, to the land, to animals that walk upon it, to the trees and plants that grow upon it, to the water that gives us life and food and to the Creator of all of this. The process by which this Agreement in Principle was reached does not afford respect to any of this but seeks to trivialize our love and respect for all of these things without speaking or more importantly without listening to the Elders, the youth, the women and people of the land. The leaders that were put into place are to handle day-to-day operations, they are to protect our rights, they are to represent to the world who we are and what we hold dear, they are to be a channel whereby our voices and concerns may be heard by other nations and governments and they are a part of a sacred trust relationship to act in a manner consistent with our beliefs, culture, traditions and identity.

Our concept of property has always been different from the European view, which is land represents wealth and exploitation of that land means more money, power and prestige. To us, the land represents life, and the protection and respect of that ensures life for next generations of Crees to inhabit the land. We are not concerned with the maximization of wealth by desecrating the land and environment so that our children are left without a land to hunt or fish upon and can not drink the water or inhabit it. The actions of this process go beyond a mere deal, they seek to redefine our identity and to diminish our relationship to the land and everything associated with it. The leadership is not empowered with the ability to speak on our behalf when it comes to changing what it means to be Cree – this is a decision that we can only decide as a full Cree Nation.

There has been talk of the Resolution 2000-25 that the people, in recognition of the pressure by the governments and corporations, strictly FORBID the Cree leadership from negotiating a deal let alone signing one that would affect our rights with respect to the land or the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement. The Agreement in Principle from beginning to end talks of nothing but our rights to the land and us relinquishing rights under the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement. The resolution while evidence of our expression that the leadership did not possess these powers is a mere indication of a much more meaningful oral law and tradition that they never possessed these powers. The fact that this Agreement in Principle goes to the core of what makes us Cree and disrespects our traditional beliefs of the interconnectedness of life makes it a decision that can only rightly be placed upon the Cree people to decide.

The information presented at the public meetings was incomplete and did not address the harms to things that would be most precious to us. Questions and concerns remained unanswered or simply ignored. It talked ambiguously of the monetary benefits but did not address the values of the costs we would pay. It only presented us with a small picture of what this would truly cost us and how broadly it would affect us. This once again disrespects us as it has never been our tradition to keep things from each other – especially things of this importance to our present and future.

The process cannot be final, or why would Premiere Landry have to sell the deal to the National Assembly. It cannot be final, or why would we need to sign a final deal in December. The parties to this are seeking the power to make this a real agreement so it would be unfair to make us bond. Also, as discussed above, the Cree signatories do not have the power to decide this in the way they have done.

What is a better process? One in which the whole nation can have input and decide the questions about this that need to be decided. The Cree Nation will soon gather for the holiday season, trappers will return from the bush, employees from jobs in the south and students from their studies. Each community should gather with its complete membership and ask important questions of what direction they see the Cree culture, lifestyle and whole nation going in the future. We need to ask if we will leave behind our ideals of respect for the land, water, animals, fish, food, trees, plants in lieu of future employment to exploit all of these and quite possibly poison them. How will this affect the goose and moose hunts of future generations? How will this affect how many fish we can eat in the future or whether we can drink the water? How will this affect our tourism industry if the land becomes more poisoned like it did with Ouje-Bougoumou? Should this decision be a consensus of all the communities, respecting the opinion of all the people, or should it be a democratic model where it is the majority that should decide on our direction? Do we have the right to take the land from our children and future generations, or are we a part of a sacred chain that has endured for 1000s of years? What does the Agreement in Principle really say? Are we okay with relying on oral promises of men that will not last for the 50 years of the agreement? Why do they need to develop this area – is there not enough electricity or is it the water they wish?

This process would respect the voice of all the Cree Nation, the idea that our future, culture and identity should be decided by the whole nation is more acceptable. The timelines of the Agreement in Principle and Final Agreement do not respect us and if there is truly a change in the provincial government that they wish to make a nation-to-nation agreement, they will understand and give us the opportunity to meet. This will be the test.

Annie Mouse-Cree

Reprinted with permission of  The Nation

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