The Grand Council of the Crees

Quebec Walks Away From Negotiation With Cree

Quebec Walks Away from Negotiations with Crees on Forestry and on the Implementation of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement Press Release

Posted: 2000-12-15

Nemaska, Eeyou Istchee: Earlier today the Cree Chiefs met by telephone conference to discuss Quebec's ultimatum on the implementation of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA) and on proposed measures to resolve the environmental and social impacts of forestry on Cree lands. The Crees note that Quebec has walked away from the discussion table by negotiating in the press yesterday. It has shown that it is absolutely not interested in constructive dialogue, but rather prefers a dictatorial approach to such matters. The Chiefs regarded the offers as unacceptable as they do not secure Cree rights. They stated that the offer on forestry was basically the same as that of last year, and that after a year no progress had been made. Even though Grand Chief Moses and Premier Bouchard had decided in November 2000 to allow a few more weeks for the remaining issues to be resolved no progress has been made.

In regard to the implementation of the James Bay Agreement the Chiefs stated that the offer was basically a repackaging and reduction of the funding earlier agreed to under a 1995 Memorandum of Understanding, the implementation of which had failed.

In regard to forestry, the key issue was whether the regime that would apply in the Territory would protect the treaty rights of the Crees to continue to hunt, fish and trap as they always have done. "Quebec is trying to circumvent the Cree rights in the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement. We entered into the JBNQA with the promise that when development seriously impacted our way of life, special laws would be adopted for the Territory", stated Grand Chief Moses. "Quebec refuses to protect my people through a special regime and would rather that the forest companies in our lands take outrageous quantities of wood even if it results in the extinction of our way of life. In replacement for our treaty protections Quebec offers us an advisory board that would administer the provisions of only the Forest Act. Quebec proposes a regime that they do not have to respect and that they can unilaterally ignore or change, as they did earlier with the now gutted 'Regie sur l'Energie'. This government is at war against due process to protect Cree rights, as they also proved by forcing the removal of Justice Croteau in our forestry court case last year." stated Grand Chief Moses.

Since his election in August 1999 Grand Chief Moses has sought to establish constructive relations with Quebec. Progress appeared to have been made in regard to issues such as the Cree Trappers Association, Cree Tourism Association and other matters. Final agreements were accepted on both sides. Rather than settling these matters separately, progress was made to await resolution of larger issues.

"We will review our possible courses of action with our people and take the holiday to reflect on where we go from here," stated the Grand Chief.