The Grand Council of the Crees

The Editor of the National Post

Posted: 0000-00-00

Dear Sir:

I am writing in regard to your article of November 10, 2001 entitled "Saviours or Sellouts" regarding the Agreement in Principle we recently signed with Quebec.

By this Agreement the Crees will for the first time become partners with Quebec in the development of the Territory. We could continue our court battle against Quebec over development, but most of the Crees prefer, if possible, to find ways to work with Quebec. I congratulate Premier Landry for recognizing that my People must benefit from the employment and the revenues created by development if we are ever to work together in support of development. Moreover, we agree on the protection of our traditional way of life through special environmental regulations and processes. That is why the present Agreement in Principle the support of the Grand Council of the Crees. It permits development in the Territory and it also opens the door to the development of our communities and to greater employment for our people, while also improving protections for our lands and way of life.

We are engaged in a process of consultation in the Cree communities. We are not seeking ratify of the Agreement in Principle. We are working towards a final Agreement by December 20th.

The discussions in the communities gave people a chance to hear first hand from the Cree negotiators what was negotiated. The meetings sometimes went on late into the evening as it is the Cree tradition to allow everyone who want to comment to speak. In some communities there was opposition expressed by a few at the start of the meetings but as they gained a better understanding of the Agreement in Principle most objections were answered.

The purpose of the trip, to inform, to answer people's questions and to debate the Agreement in Principle and the development of a final agreement. We are now proceeding to develop the final text with Quebec, which when completed will of course be put before the Cree People.

Mr. Roslins who wrote the article was not present at the consultations, and conveys the impression that there was strong opposition to the AIP. It was my impression that the AIP enjoys broad and strong support. People are optimistic about reaching a final agreement with Quebec. Of course there is not unanimity and I do not expect this, but the concerns expressed at the meetings were for the most part reasonable and valid and I believe that they were also largely resolved.

As for the impact on the trappers, the Eastmain 1 dam will be built right on my own family's hunting lands. As with the proprietor of the business cited in the article, I am concerned about the impacts of the proposed hydro project to our traditional way of life. However, I see that many Crees, such as the business man quoted do not now make their living from hunting and trapping but utilize other opportunities. We must ensure for those who choose this traditional way of life that it remains viable, but there also must be alternatives. This is what many of the traditional people said in our meetings, often with tears in their eyes, and it was one reason they gave for supporting the Agreement.

Sincerely Yours,

Ted Moses, Grand Chief, GCCEI