The Grand Council of the Crees is the political body that represents the approximately (2012) 18,000 Crees or “Eeyouch” (“Eenouch” – Mistissini dialect), as they call themselves, of eastern James Bay and Southern Hudson Bay in Northern Quebec. The Grand Council has twenty members: a Grand Chief and Deputy-Grand Chief elected at large by the Eeyouch, the chiefs elected by each of the nine Cree communities, and one other representative from each community. The present Grand Chief is Mathew Coon Come and the Deputy Grand Chief is Ashley Iserhoff. The Council’s head office is in the Cree community of Nemaska, although it also has offices in Montreal and Ottawa.
The current Grand Chief is Matthew Coon Come.
The current Deputy Grand Chief is Ashley Iserhoff.
Since 1991 the Eeyou of Eeyou Istchee have been working towards establishment of a Cree Legislature. The first, special sitting of this Legislature was held October 17-19, 1995, and approved the following Eeyou Istchee Declaration of Principles:
The Grand Council (GCCEI) of the Crees/Cree Regional Authority (CRA) represents the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee and protects the rights of the Cree People. Canada is a signatory of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA - 1975) and in the James Bay and Northern Quebec Native Claims Settlement Act ratifying the 1975 Agreement also affirms that it has a "special relationship" with the Cree People. In addition, Canada has special obligations toward the aboriginal peoples of Canada by virtue of the Canadian Constitution.
The Grand Council began working on the international level when it realized in 1980 that Canada and Quebec were not going to implement the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement in a straight forward manner, attuned to the needs of the communities. At the time, Canada was refusing to live up to obligations in respect to sewer and water systems in the communities and for housing as well as other aspects of community and economic development. Quebec had neatly excused itself from any responsibility for these matters on Category 1 Lands that it said were under Federal Jurisdiction. The Crees decided to take their problems to the Pope and began to look around at the various international fora where there was a possibility that Canada and Quebec could be held to international standards in their treatment of the Crees.
The Government of Quebec is a signatory of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA) (1975). The Crees and Inuit of Northern Quebec were the first Aboriginal Nations to accept in their treaty, provisions for education and health and social services provided by Cree institutions set up under Quebec Law. The Cree communities, unlike the Inuit, have local governments established under federal law by virtue of the 1975 JBNQA and through the Cree/Naskapi (of Quebec) Act, but also have local governments under the Quebec Government's Cree Villages Act. In addition to this, the Crees have local and regional police services and a complement of Cree game wardens set up in cooperation with Quebec, a Quebec Income Security Program for Cree Trappers, and a register of Cree beneficiaries of the JBNQA, maintained by Quebec.