The Grand Council of the Crees

Overview of the "Report of the Working Group on the Impact..."

Overview of the: "Report of the Working Group On The Impact of The Presence of Hydro- Quebec in the North of Quebec"

Posted: 0000-00-00

General Findings

The report was written with the cooperation of the secretariat of the Quebec Treasury Board and Hydro Quebec and was drafted by a group mandated by Minister Guy Chevrette, Minister of Native Affairs and Natural Resources. The report focuses on Hydro Quebec because of its importance to the development of northern Quebec. This region of Quebec, also known to the Crees as "Eeyou Astchee" is the traditional homeland of the Cree people, "Eeyouch". Composition of the Group :

Pierre Cazalis ENAP
Rejean Gravel, Radisson Chamber of Commerce
Yvon Aube, Aube Pontiac Buik Radisson
Darius Cote, Petroliere Esso
Claude Gagne, Radisson Development Corporation
Jules Pelletier, Radisson
Andre Allard, Hydro Quebec
Richard Toupin, Hydro Quebec
Jaques Berube, Regional Council of Radissonie
Luc Ferland, Regional Council of Radissonie
Langevin Gagnon, President of the Working Group
Jaques Lafontaine S.C.T.
Denis Giroux S.C.T.
Pierre Beaudoin M.R.N.

[If the non-native populations of the company towns of Mattagami, Chibougamou, Lebel, Radisson, and Chapais are considered as part of the territory then the Crees comprise over 40 % of the total territorial population. These towns were built since 1950 to exploit forestry and mining resources, and except for Radisson which was built for the construction workers on the La Grande Hydro-electric project, are in the southern fringe of the Territory. North of the 50th parallel the Crees comprise over 90% of the population and unlike the non-native population, the Crees are everywhere on Eeyou Astchee.]The mandate of the Group was to look at the impacts of Hydro Quebec on employment and through its purchasing policies, on economic activity in the region. The report states that given the economic structure of the region, Hydro Quebec could not promote development in the region by giving preferential electricity rates to certain industries as it does to the Aluminum refineries in other regions. Hydro's impact is then through its employment policies and its policy on purchasing as well as through the impacts of its works. The economy of the region is largely dependent on mining, energy and forestry all of which are sensitive to international markets. The report states that hydro, mining and forestry projects are the first phase of development which build the infrastructure required for phase II which involves smaller businesses with lower profit margins and which is focused on such areas as tourism.The report also claims to give a view of the impacts of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement. It states that the Agreement has created institutions for the native population and is an example of the type of measure which could be instituted for the non-native population of the Territory. The report states that the political will of the Government of the Province of Quebec to decentralize its powers is an important part of the context in which the present recommendations of the Working Group are presented. It cites the recognition in 1995 of the Region of Northern Quebec and the naming of an Assistant Deputy Minister for the region as elements to be taken taken account of in assessing the importance of the recommendations of the Working Group. It decries the splitting of the management of the La Grande Riviere Project (LG Project) into two parts managed out of Chicoutimi and Rouyn, both of which are located south of the Territory. It recommends that the project be administered in its entirety from Radisson. [This suggestion is made with a disingenuous reference to the river being a "homogeneous biophysical whole" which is used as a rationale for relocating the administration to Radisson. In fact the authors of the report are solely interested in the economics and appear to have little interest or expertise in anything outside of this. There is nothing in the report of the incompatibility of promoting tourism and at the same time allowing the out of control rape of the land through non-ecologically sustainable forest practices and the wholesale destruction of rivers and lakes through massive hydro projects.][Ethnic] Occupation of the TerritoryThe report complains that Radisson, the construction camp built for the construction of the La Grande Riviere project, was subsequently peopled with bureaucrats. It then suggests that this fact is responsible for the development of : "?a relationship of good neighbours between the native and non-native populations of the Territory, rendering possible a real partnership of the two communities in the development of the Territory." Some lines later it goes on to state : "?the 1975 Agreement laid a base for a partnership between Hydro Quebec and the native communities but did very little for the non-native communities which were present on the Territory at the time of the signing of the Agreement or which were created since that time, such as Radisson."[ In other words, the non-natives of the territory have been cheated by not having been accorded the same or similar rights as the natives. This ridiculous statement reveals the underlying theme of the report: that the time has come for the non-natives to occupy the Territory supported by the Quebec Government and Hydro Quebec, in the name of Quebec. The Crees are citizens of the Province of Quebec and citizens of Canada. This was recognized in the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement. The appeal in this report is a call for the occupation of Eeyou Astchee by those who are the real Quebecers, the non-natives. ]An olive branch is held out to the natives in that the report states that the future will be made through partnerships among the public sector ( including Hydro Quebec) and the private sector and the natives and non-natives. [ However the report fails to mention the fact that the very reason for the existence of the non-native communities is that certain companies came to the Territory to exploit the resources, without asking the Crees for their consent, needed workers and with few exceptions went to the non-natives for this. Moreover, the Cree way of life has suffered enormous impacts through the loss of habitat for the animals upon which the Crees depended, through the introduction of foreign influences, through the opening of the Territory to largely unregulated sport-hunting and other influences. These were the very things that the newly introduced non-native community promoted and depended upon.]Financial ConsiderationsThe annual operations budget of Hydro Quebec is $1.7 Billion of which $100 Million (6%) is spent on the Abitibi and Saguenay sectors.The declared profit of Hydro Quebec in 1995 was $390 Million.The La Grande system produces 50% of the electricity (14,850 MW) produced by H.Q. (31,162MW).H.Q.'s total revenues are $7.6 Billion, of which $3.5 Billion comes from LaGrande.H.Q.'s long term debt is $35.7 Billion.H.Q.'s annual interest costs are $3.3 Billion and the retirement of debt is $1.2 Billion.In 1995 H.Q. invested $2.7 Billion on new installations.H.Q. employs 24,851 people directly and its economic activity supports 27,100 directly and 19500 indirectly.In 1995 H. Q. spent $2 billion on purchases.Expected ChangesThe purchases by H.Q. in the region will drop to about $20 Million from the current level of $100 Million.The coming cost cutting exercise at H.Q. should cut the cost of operating La Grande by requiring that the employees on the project live in the region.Human Resources and the RegionThe La Grande Project is divided into two sectors for the purposes of operations management.

Western Sector:

L.G.1 42 workers $ 2.7 Million annual salary
L.G.2 338 workers $21. Million annual salary
Nemiscau 45 workers $ 3 Million annual salary
Lebel 2 workers $ 0.115 Million annual salary
Mattagami 2 workers $ 0.115 Million annual salary
{off-territory} 38 workers  
Royan   $ 2 Million annual salary

Eastern Sector:

L.G.3 - L.G.4 326 workers $20.1 Million annual salary
L.G.1 - L.G.2 Brisay 109 workers $ 7.2 Million annual salary
Chibougamou 81 workers $ 4.2 Million annual salary
Chicoutimi 14 workers $ 0.8 Million annual salary

The total amount paid in respect to salaries is $60.9 Million for 997 employees(1996).Cost of the South-La Grande Airshuttle ServiceOf the employees working on La Grande, 869 are shuttled between the south and the project.

The report estimates that an employee working an 8 days on -- 6days off schedule works 1455 hours as opposed to an employee who works a regular 5/2 work week who works 1769 hours per year. As a result of this , the report claims, there is need for more workers as a result of the loss in productivity due to the shuttle service.The report cites concerns that the administration of HQ had with the shuttle service in the 1980's as a result of frequent team changes on the work sites, weather problems and the resulting costs incurred. It also goes on to state that the company at the time foresaw the possibility of making a permanent town in the region if further hydro electric projects were built in the future. A 1990 report commissioned by HQ recommended that the project be managed from Radisson. However HQ decided to manage the project out of Chicoutimi and Rouyn instead.A 1995 report commissioned by HQ stated that Radisson was not viable if it was to be kept open just to serve HQ's needs. It also stated that the shuttle program was justified and that HQ could not insist on employees staying in Radisson if it hoped to attract the best qualified workers. The present working group report claims that if HQ factored in the cost of the shuttle program and its loss of worker efficiency, it would be justified to keep Radisson and to make it a permanent town for the project workers. The report recommends that HQ opens the possibility for workers to come and reside in the region. It states that the present village of Radisson has under 500 residents while there are 75 houses and 500 empty rooms available in the town which in total could house 1500 residents. It recommends that the 435 employees in the eastern sector of the La Grande should be shuttled in from Chibougamou, Chapais or Mattagami. It also recommends that the 380 employees in the LG1 and LG2 areas should reside at Radisson. Finally the Nemiscau employees should commute from either Chibougamou or Chapais by automobile.[ This analysis makes no mention of the Crees as potential workers on the project. In 1975 the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement set out a priority for the employment of Crees by employers on the Territory, among them HQ. The fact is though that HQ did not set up special programs with the Cree School Board or with the Bands to attract Crees to these jobs. By 1986 it was evident that things were not going well as there were still no Crees working for HQ on a permanent basis. Some Crees had received employment on contracts held by Cree and in a few cases by non-Cree companies. The 1986 La Grande Agreement whereby the Crees allowed the modifications of the La Grande Project to be built, there was a target set of 150 Crees to be employed on the project within 10 years. Eleven years later there are 3 Crees working there.HQ in undertaking minimal efforts to reach the goal of 150 HQ tried to use the funding of the Federal Government which is provided to the Crees annually to use for the training needs of the communities. When this source of funding was not made available to HQ, the initiative to train and encourage Crees to take up employment with Hydro Quebec died.Also, the plan to house the Hydro Quebec workers in the north does not address the continuing shortage of housing in the Cree communities. Today, May 1997 there is need for 1200 new housing units and the present capacity to build new houses does not meet the rate of new family formation.]Hydro Quebec PurchasingQuebec presently provides a 10% advantage to Quebec suppliers when there is a Quebec source for the item to be purchased.The report sets out how Hydro Quebec disadvantages suppliers from the region by factoring out the cost of transportation from Rouyn north to the La Grande project. It then recounts how the Crees are accorded contract and employment advantages under the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement which are denied to the non-natives of the region. It states that Cree companies abuse this policy by using non-natives to carry out the work.The report states that only 10% of the purchases for the operation of the western part of the project are made in the region. Whereas up to 25% are made in neighboring regions.To correct the situation it recommends that the region receive a 1% advantage ($50,000 maximum) in bids for contracts. An advantage of 2% would be appropriate for native/non-native joint ventures, it states.The report then compares the contracts accorded by Hydro Quebec to the non-natives of the region and the natives for the year 1994. The figures show that the non-natives were accorded $8Million in contracts that year while the natives got $4.2Million. The study then adds the amounts awarded to the natives by the James Bay Energy Corporation (JBEC)over the same period to increase the native total to $39.5 Million. The report does not add the JBEC amounts to the non-native amounts but goes ahead anyway to compare the totals, crying foul as the natives now appear to have 83% of the contracts accorded to the region.[ The description of contracts and purchases is badly put together. First of all, the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement sets out certain conditions for the Cree acceptance that the La Grande Project be built on the Cree territory. These conditions have not been lived up to by Quebec and Canada. Few Crees are employed in the operation of the developments on the Territory. With regard to contracts it was often the government that insisted that in order to receive specific contracts the Crees would have to have a non- native partner. Joint ventures are sometimes put together for the purposes of a specific contract by having the contractor subcontract parts of the work to another company. Moreover, because it takes time for the Crees to acquire the expertise to undertake all aspects of the work, it is necessary for the Cree companies to hire trained people. The opportunity provided by such arrangements for Crees to work and learn alongside these people is a vital part of the Crees ability to increase their capacity to undertake such work. To suggest that Cree companies should only hire Crees is a narrow, perhaps racist and short term way of thinking about the situation. Perhaps there should be a definition applied to what is meant by a person or company "from the region" . Perhaps only those non-natives born in the region should be given any special consideration or perhaps corporations should only be considered as "from the region" when all of their shareholders live in the region.The report comments about the management of the project from outside of the project area. This fact does give credence to the idea that mega-projects in the north are actually projects only for southern development. However the report is written in the perspective of the non-natives of the north now having to exert themselves to take the development initiative away from the natives. The report contains an ethnic agenda which possibly finds an attentive audience in the Separatist Government which would fill the north with non-natives in an attempt to drown the native voice on the future of the Territory. The plan for non-native predominance will perhaps include training and incentives to northern non-natives to work for HQ. Clearly the question of housing will have to be resolved as the presently empty workers quarters in Radisson are trailers with a limited life span. All of these are things that were promised to the Crees in 1975 and which Quebec has never addressed in a serious way with the Crees, in spite of repeated efforts on the part of the Crees to have the issues addressed.]Other Impacts of HQ in the NorthThe report points out that HQ presently provides 66% of the operating revenues for the James Bay Municipality and 77% of the revenues of the town of Radisson. In addition HQ puts $18 Million per year into road and airport maintenance in the Territory.


1. That the Regional Secretary be mandated to put together a regional development plan by July 1, 1997.

2. That the provincial government leave the Territory and put into place the administrative structures necessary for the administration of the Territory from within the Territory.

3. That HQ's financing of road maintenance in the Territory be "clarified" by May 31, 1997.

4. That the Government of Quebec sign the Framework Agreement coming out of the strategic planning work done by the Regional Council of Radissonie specifically the part on the recognition of the region and on the harmonious occupation of the Territory.

5. That the itinerant commission that the government will set up have as its objective to define the model of economic development for the region to ensure the creation of employment and the development of municipal institutions and the management of transport and that this be ready for march 31st, 1997.

6. That the Regional Council of Radissonie and HQ meet regularly to better understand their respective roles.

7. That HQ find ways to support the governmental actions in the territory using the means at its disposal.

8. That the commuting of workers be studied with a view to replacing it with the residence of workers in the Territory.

9. That the Minister of Natural Resources and the President of HQ mandate the group to carry out the above mentioned study.

10. That all relevant factors (set out in the text) be taken into consideration in the above mentioned study.

11. That after the study the plan for having the workers live in the territory be instituted and that the administration of the La Grande project be unified but decentralized within the Territory.

12. That the commuter program be phased out in 5 yr.

13. That Quebec and HQ develop compatible programs to implement the residence of the workers on the Territory.

14. That similar measures for the negotiation of purchasing contracts be instituted in the region as are in place for the St. Marguerite Project.( advance negotiation of contracts with companies from the region, limits on certain calls for offers to companies in the region)

15. That HQ and the Regional Council of the Radissonie set up a committee to oversee the impact of HQ on the economic development of the region.

16. That companies from the region be given a 1% margin on contracts ($50,000 max.) and that non-native/native joint ventures have a 2% margin ($50,000 max.)

17. That HQ change its acquisition policies to favour suppliers in the Territory and so that suppliers from elsewhere not be accorded transport advantages and that purchasing be done from the Territory. Also, that the rules for preferential bidding to the Crees under the JBNQA be such that there is a stipulation that for employing Crees, otherwise the normal provisions for bidders from the Territory would apply.

18. That local suppliers put together a list of the products that they offer for the use of purchasers in the region.

19. That annual meetings are organized between purchasers and regional suppliers of goods and services. This could be done in the framework of the follow-up committee on socio-economic impacts.

20. That HQ promotes a regional culture in its relations with local suppliers, by sensitizing its employees to the situation in the region.

21. That HQ put together the measures necessary to be able to report to Quebec on the impacts of its activities on the Territory, whenever it is asked to do so by the government of Quebec.[ What is interesting is that for years the Crees have been asking without success for the province to institute such measures to see to the implementation of Quebec and Hydro Quebec's obligations under the JBNQA and other agreements. They will be watching to see how much attention the above summarized report will get by the Province and Hydro Quebec.]

Annex 3: Summary of the James Bay AgreementThe summary is very incomplete. It focuses on the beneficiary status of the Crees, on the extinguishment clause, the land regime, the hunting -fishing -trapping regime, environmental protection, the James Bay Regional Zone Council, different commercial activities and how they are construed in the Agreement, hydro electric projects, government projects and roads.[ The description of the Agreement ignores : education and health services, police and justice services, and Cree rights to certain development activities including those on category 3 lands.Here is a brief summary of some of the problems with what is described:

22. Lands : The Cree regime is described while that of the Inuit is not. Category 1 lands are described as under federal administration, without mention of the fact that this was transferred to the Crees in the Cree/Naskapi of Quebec Act. (This omission is perhaps deliberately done to incite a negative reaction from the separatist Quebec government.) The description of Category 2 lands says that when such lands are expropriated for development, the Crees must be compensated in money. This ignores the land replacement provisions. (The omission does however serve to create the impression that the Crees are only after money and that the Agreement is set up for this purpose.) The report does however state that on category 2 lands forestry activities "must expressly take account of trapping
activities" (Someone should tell the forestry companies of this.)For Category 3 lands the impression is given that the Crees can hunt most animals without
requiring a hunting permit. ( In fact the Crees can hunt all species without a permit.)

In addition Category 3 lands are described as Quebec public lands and no mention is made of the Cree rights to development on these lands.

23. The description of the Hunting-Fishing and Trapping Regime gives a straight account of the Cree rights to the faunal resources of the Territory. No mention is made of the rights of non-natives to hunt certain game species. In addition, the quotas established in the Agreement to which the Crees have a right, are described without mention of the fact that the Crees have shared the moose quota with non-natives in the Waswanipi area or of the fact that the quotas have not been reached by the Crees in many cases in recent years due largely to the loss of habitat due to development activities and the consequent decrease in animal populations in those areas.Overall, once again the impression is given that the Crees have all of the rights and the non-
natives nothing.

24. The description of the Environment Regime mentions the protections afforded by the regime to the Cree hunting-fishing-trapping, protection of the Cree economy and the resources on which they depend. It ignores the protections provided for: special involvement of the Crees in the review process, protection of the Cree rights in the whole Agreement, the protections of the rights of non-natives and the protection of the right to develop. Once again the false impression is created that the Crees are the only ones to benefit. The discussion does not mention the billions of dollars going annually into the pockets of non-natives as a result of resource exploitation of the Territory. Moreover the description falsely proposes that the Regime does not apply to the non-native municipalities of the region.

25. On commercial activities the report states that the activities are divided into 7 areas:

a. commerce : The report states the areas in which the Crees have an exclusive right : Category 1 lands, Category 2 lands in some places. (It ignores the vast extent of the right to develop set out by the

b. minerals : Once again the focus is on the fact that while Quebec retained the sub-surface rights in the JBNQA, the minerals are not exploitable because the Crees control access to Category 1A lands.

c. Forests : The mention is made of the Cree rights on category 1 lands and on the need to concretize the requirement that the cutting on Cat. 2 lands be done in a manner compatible with Cree hunting practices. The Advisory Committee is sited as the body for advice to Government before the management plans are approved. The focus is on the extent of Cree rights and not on the extent of non- native rights in these areas.

d. Outfitting : This it says is subject to the Cree right of first refusal and to the right to the guaranteed harvest.

e. Commercial Hunting : This the report says is limited to the Crees until 2024.

f. Commercial Fishing : Limited to Crees on Category 3 lands.

g. Trapping : Reserved to the Natives

Other Engagements :

26. Hydro projects are reserved and described by HQ.

27. Crees are favored for procurement and other contracts from the Governments.

28. Canada, Quebec and the Crees are to negotiate the access roads.

[ The focus in the Agreement description is on the extent of Cree rights and not on the rights of other Governments in the Territory. The description is the way of presenting the case against the Crees. The indication is given that the Crees are an obstacle to development of the Territory because they have too many rights. No mention is made of the non-native activities, companies and amounts of revenue generated by their so- called ?development' activity. As a result of what the Report does not say about the development on the Territory the Crees are singled out as the target. The original mandate of the report was to be on the impact of Hydro Quebec on the development of the Territory. The anti-JBNQA, anti-Cree subagenda comes out through a careful reading of the text. It is remarkable that the Minister of Natural Resources and Native Affairs, Mr. Guy Chevrette, should release such a document, unless of course his government subscribes to the ethnic agenda set out in it.]