Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

February 21, 2008 10:30 ET

Through Partnership, a New Relationship Between the James Bay Cree and Government of Canada is Now a Reality

MISTISSINI, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - Feb. 21, 2008) - The Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Metis and non-Status Indians, and Matthew Mukash, Grand Chief of the Quebec Cree, today signed an Agreement Concerning a New Relationship between the Government of Canada and the Cree of Eeyou Istchee.

"Our Government's commitment and decisive approach puts the past to rest, and will clear the way for the Cree to become a full partner in economic and resource development in northern Quebec," said Minister Strahl. "Our new constructive relationship with the Cree of Eeyou Istchee will help them become more self-sufficient, resulting in a brighter future for the Cree and for all Canadians."

The agreement, which includes $1.4 billion in compensation, is broad in nature in that it:

- brings resolution to litigation over past implementation of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA);

- resolves other disputes not necessarily related to the JBNQA;

- clarifies the federal responsibilities the Cree Regional Authority will administrate for the next 20 years;

- establishes a two-phased process for modernizing Cree governance; and

- establishes a dispute resolution mechanism.

"This agreement is forward-looking as it provides the Cree the resources to implement outstanding obligations of Canada in the 1975 James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement," said Cree Grand Chief Matthew Mukash. "It also sets in motion what is probably the most important initiative since 1975, the development of a new Cree Government. I look forward to working with Canada and Quebec in the near future to make this a reality that benefits all."

Originally signed in 1975, the JBNQA was Canada's first modern treaty. It dealt with land and other issues dating back to the late 1800s. The Quebec Cree will assume federal responsibilities primarily in the areas of administration of justice and economic and social development.

In a second phase of negotiations, the Grand Council of the Cree and the Government of Canada will address the modernization of the Cree's governance regime. The first step will be to determine which "jurisdictions and authorities" will be the subject of self-government negotiations with the Cree government.

The Crees of Eeyou Istchee are living in nine communities located on the shores of James Bay and Hudson Bay, as well as further inland.

This release and other background information are available on the Internet at www.inac.gc.ca

Contact Information

  • Office of the Honourable Chuck Strahl
    Minister's Office
    Josee Bellemare, Press Secretary
    819-997-0002
    or
    Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
    Media Relations
    819-953-1160
    or
    Bill Namagoose
    Executive Director and Cree Negotiator
    613-725-7024
    Billnama@gcc.ca