The Grand Council of the Crees

Letter from Grand Chief Mukash to the Cree Voters in the Canada-Cree New Relationship Agreement Referendum 2007

Posted: 2007-08-08

Kwey Kwey Watchia!

I am writing to inform you of a new proposed relationship between the Cree Nation and Canada. On July 16, 2007, Minister Lawrence Cannon and myself announced that we had come to an agreement on outstanding issues. Under this proposed agreement the Crees will assume many of the responsibilities of the Government of Canada set out in the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA) and we will determine how these are implemented over the next 20 years according to our own priorities. There were outstanding obligations in the JBNQA remaining unimplemented so the Cree leaders over the years have launched a number of lawsuits seeking fulfilment of them. These lawsuits would be dismissed, and the Cree Nation would be given the resources over the next twenty years to fulfill the outstanding obligations themselves. We would be in control of our own priorities and the implementation of federal obligations under the JBNQA in the areas addressed in the proposed New Relationship Agreement

If the Agreement is approved, there will also be a process to develop a new form of Cree Government that will be decided and set out in a Cree constitution and in a new law of the government of Canada that will recognize certain of its jurisdictions. Moreover, the Government of Quebec will be involved in determining with the Crees, the nature of Cree involvement in regional government.

These are important issues to be decided and for that reason the Cree leadership and the Government of Canada will be coming to the Cree communities to inform you more of the details of this New Relationship Agreement, and to listen to any questions or concerns you may have. The acceptance of this agreement will be determined by you, the Cree beneficiaries of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement. We will host a referendum, and the process will go beyond ballots in the community to going onto the land to collect ballots and allowing for mail-in ballots for those living in or outside Eeyou Istchee. The process will be as inclusive as possible for all Cree beneficiaries who wish to participate, and I encourage you all to participate.

This Agreement sets out how your rights will be implemented over the next 20 years. All rights laid out in the JBNQA will remain after the 20 year period. There are no developments contemplated or proposed in this agreement, it is in relation to outstanding obligations, and a proposed new regional Cree governance structure in Eeyou Istchee.

This Agreement sets out how your rights will be implemented over the next 20 years. All rights laid out in the JBNQA will remain after the 20 year period. There are no developments contemplated or proposed in this agreement, it is in relation to outstanding obligations, and a proposed new regional Cree governance structure in Eeyou Istchee.

I ask you to read the material provided on the 2007 Referendum Website (Located at http://www.gcc.ca/referendum2007/ ) and to participate in both the community consultations and the referendum. This New Relationship Agreement with Canada has been the subject of meetings of Council/Board. At the last Council Board, the Cree Chiefs, community representatives, the Deputy Grand Chief, and myself have agreed to put this agreement to the Cree people for your consideration. We look forward to meeting with you in the communities this coming August and September when we will take the time necessary to discuss this matter with you.

Sincerely Yours,

Grand Chief Matthew Mukash