(Quebec City, November 6, 2009) A press conference was held today by Grand Chief Dr. Matthew Coon Come following a day-long conference convened by the Honourable Madame Nathalie Normandeau (Minister of Natural Resources) to provide information related to the "Plan Nord" announced by Premier Charest in November 2008.
At the press conference, Dr. Matthew Coon Come called on Premier Charest to renew the original spirit of the "Paix des Braves", an historic agreement between the Government of Quebec and the Cree Nation signed in 2002 which set aside decades of court battles and public campaigns by the Crees to obtain fulfillment of Quebec's obligations under the 1975 James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement.
Since the signing of the "Paix des Braves", a number of measures have been taken by Quebec which contravene both the spirit and the letter of that historic Agreement. Among these measures include the granting of authorities for development of large parts of the Territory to the James Bay Municipality which represents the non-Cree municipalities, and also, there are measures currently being introduced to unilaterally amend the Agreement in order to circumvent the forest management regime in the Agreement.
Grand Chief Coon Come called on Premier Charest to reaffirm the spirit of that Agreement:
"It is my view that the Cree Nation is now at a crossroads in our relationship with other governments, including the Government of Quebec. Flowing from the "Paix des Braves" and the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, we have an unparalleled opportunity for the development of the region for the benefit of our Nations in a forward-looking spirit of openness, mutual respect and harmony.
"On the other hand, there is also a danger which is before us. This is the danger of slipping into previous historical patterns of paternalism or marginalization, and resulting social conflict, mistrust and litigation. Since 2002, when we signed the "Paix des Braves", we have been hopeful that we could consign those tired approaches and those negative instincts to the history books of our nations, and that we could instead move forward to develop a secure foundation for our Nation by developing the territory in a spirit of nation-to-nation partnership."
Dr. Coon Come views the Plan Nord as potentially offering an historic opportunity for the Cree Nation and the Government of Quebec to move forward together to build their economies. He stated: "Now is the time and now is the opportunity to give meaning to our agreements and to move forward as genuine, and equal, partners for the mutual benefit of our two nations".