The Grand Council of the Crees

Press Release: Cree Grand Chief Ted Moses Calls on Canada to Break...

Cree Grand Chief Ted Moses Calls on Canada to Break with its Old Colonial Aboriginal Thinking

Posted: 2002-04-18

NEMASKA, Québec (18 April 2002) Cree Grand Chief Dr. Ted Moses speaking in Ottawa today told a legal conference, "Beyond the Indian Act" that the Canadian government's approach to aboriginal issues is stuck in the past.

He compared Canada's old approach, with the new agreement recently signed between the Grand Council of the Crees and the Government of Québec, an agreement which he said was imaginative and fresh, and in the economic and social interest of both aboriginal and non-aboriginal people.

Here is an excerpt from his statement to the conference which was also attended by Minister Robert Nault, and National Chief Matthew Coon Come.

The federal government signed the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement and then walked away. Canada has been walking further and further away from the treaty it signed with us in 1975. I would predict that Canada will eventually walk away from the Nisga'a Treaty and from Nunavut, and from every other agreement it signs with aboriginal peoples.

The aboriginal rights contained in the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement were confirmed to be treaty rights when the Constitution Act 1982 was amended. Despite the constitutional paramountcy of the Agreement in Canadian law, Canada has made the aboriginal rights contained in the Agreement subject to its constant and numerous political maneuverings-putting current policy above the Constitution of this country.

Although Canada may now wish that it had not signed the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement, those solemn commitments have been made and we will not step back-To break our treaty now is both immoral and illegal.

The Government of Québec has boldly faced the challenge of the commitments it has made by implementing one of the most fundamental recommendations of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, genuinely promoting economic development for the benefit of aboriginal people and non-aboriginal people.

Canada has yet to wake up and see where the national interest of the country is. Canada's national interest is not promoted by treating the Crees or any other aboriginal people as adversaries.

Our new nation-to-nation agreement with Québec proves that sharing the resources with the aboriginal peoples is both morally correct and economically wise. Canada's on-going relationship (or lack of relationship) with the Crees only proves one thing. Canada remains stuck in its old Indian Act colonial relationship with the aboriginal peoples. Nothing that Canada is offering now indicates any change in this old way of thinking.

After years of negotiation with Canada, we have a process that has achieved nothing. I invite Canada to reach a global agreement with the Crees to implement the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement. Canada, it is time to do something.