The Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee is comprised of over 13,000 people and at the present rate of growth the population doubles every 25 years. We are an organized society that depends on the islands of eastern James and Hudson Bays and on areas inland over 600 kilometres along the major rivers systems, from the Nastapoka Rivers in the north to the Harricana at the bottom of James Bay.
Today we continue to use the full extent of our lands and one third of our population pursues traditional activities as their primary occupation. The numbers of Crees living on the land has been fairly constant since the 1970?s, while those who hunt and fish as an adjunct to wage earning have increased. Approximately one-third of those of working age are in long term wage employment while another third are either unemployed or dependent or occasional employment. Unemployment rates are greater in some communities.
The Cree Nation has always governed its traditional ancestral lands with its own laws and customs and this interest has been confirmed by common law, under the Royal Proclamation of 1763 and other laws, and confirmed by the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (1975) and by international law.
We use, manage, conserve, and sustain our lands, and have been sustained for millennia by the water and lands of the territory, and by the creatures that live there without this relationship posing a threat to these diverse species.
Our lands and way of life have in recent years been greatly impacted by the La Grande Hydroelectric Development, phase one of the James Bay Project and by the increase in forestry operations and mining operations on our lands.
The cultural and social survival of the Cree people depends on our continuing to fight for the recognition of our right as a people to dispose of the resources of our territory as we see fit.
Hunting, fishing and trapping will always be part of our way of life. It provides the context for learning traditional skills and for participating in the age-old way of life of our people. Legends, stories of our past and the associated linguistic skills are best learned around a campfire. Cooperation, endurance, perseverance and patience are just some of our traditional values instilled through participation in this way of life. It provides an emotional and cultural anchor in a sea of change.
Moreover the bush life provides much needed high quality food that helps us to combat the diabetes epidemic presently sweeping our communities and heart disease.
Each year there are over 200 Cree entrants to the job market from school. The land cannot allow everyone to take up the bush life full-time. Moreover, most Crees seek to learn other skills, sometimes after having gone to the bush school, so that they can obtain employment in other areas. Today we have Cree health professionals, lawyers, geologists, engineers, administrators, clerical workers, mechanics, high tech workers etc.
We therefore promote development that is the least damaging to the environment while at the same time productive of opportunities for the Crees to participate in development over the long term.
Today the Cree People have companies that specialize in air transportation, construction, lumber, mining, food catering, tourism, craft manufacturing, photography, publishing, various types of consulting and other things.
We invite you to explore this web site to get a better sense of the diverse interests and initiatives undertaken by the Cree People in their adaptation to the changing demands of this increasingly inter-connected world