Ottawa, Ontario (June 12, 2009) - The Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for MÃ©tis and Non-Status Indians, is pleased to announce that legislation to amend the Cree-Naskapi (of Quebec) Act received Royal Assent yesterday. Introduced in the House of Commons on April 27, the amended legislation gives increased bylaw making authority to the Cree of Eeyou Istchee.
This legislation fulfills our commitment to provide the necessary powers to the Cree of Eeyou Istchee so that they can assume greater responsibility for community and economic development, as well as achieve increased autonomy, stated Minister Strahl. The quick passage of this legislation shows what can be achieved when we work together toward a common goal. This legislation empowers the Cree Regional Authority (CRA) -- the administrative authority for the Cree of Eeyou Istchee -- with bylaw-making powers. The Cree of Eeyou Istchee assume responsibility for the administration of justice and economic and social development dealing with community centres, essential sanitation and fire protection, training facilities and courses, job recruitment and placement, Cree associations and economic development agents. These responsibilities had been previously assumed by the federal government under the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA).
Grand Chief Matthew Mukash commented: This legislation formally recognizes the Cree Regional Authority as the regional government of the nine Cree communities. This is the first in a two part step of growing Cree government agreed to with Canada in 2007-2008. The second step, also involving the Government of Quebec, will further define the role of Cree Nation Government. I thank Ministers Strahl and Prentice for their leadership in seeing this legislation through and I also thank Prime Minister Harper for the progressive orientations that made this possible.
The legislation also fulfills Canadas commitment, under the 1992 OujÃ©-Bougoumou/Canada Agreement, to incorporate the Crees of OujÃ©-Bougoumou into the JBNQA and the Cree Naskapi (of Quebec) Act as the ninth Cree Band.
In 2007, Canada and the Grand Council of the Crees reached an agreement aimed at fulfilling Canadas obligations under the JBNQA. In February 2008, Canada and the Cree of Eeyou Istchee signed the Agreement concerning a New Relationship between the Government of Canada and the Cree of Eeyou Istchee (New Relationship Agreement) that supported the resolution of disputes between the Cree and Canada, concerning Canadas responsibilities under the JBNQA.
For more information, please contact:
Office of the Honourable Chuck Strahl
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada