Updated June 11, 2011.
On behalf of the Cree Nation, I must take exception to the article by Mr. André Dubuc published in La Presse on Friday, June 10, 2011 entitled "Les Cris veulent percevoir des redevances sur leur territoire". The article incorrectly refers to an alleged Cree requirement of the Crees demanding "royalty" payments from mining companies operating within our traditional territory. Both the content and the tone of the article mischaracterize the Cree Nation Mining Policy by suggesting that its application imposes an unacceptable financial burden on mining companies.
In the wake of the Framework Agreement on Governance recently signed between the Crees and the Government of Québec, we have all embraced principles of inclusion and participation of the Crees in the governance and development of Eeyou Istchee. The Cree Nation Mining Policy is a reflection of this ideology of inclusion. This policy confirms the long held Cree position that we are not "anti-development".
Moreover, the Cree Mining Policy does not impose any royalties on mining companies operating in the territory. The Crees' long-standing position has been that when it comes to our traditional territory, we must be full participants in any projects intended to develop the natural resources, and also, we must benefit from any resource development. This very notion, in fact, was enshrined in the historic "Paix des Braves", a Nation-to-Nation agreement, of which we are all proud. This notion has been given further tangible expression in the context of mining activities through our Cree Nation Mining Policy.
The Cree Nation Mining Policy provides the guidelines for agreements between the Cree Nation and mining companies to ensure our participation and ensure that our communities benefit from mining projects. This is not a novel concept. Throughout Canada, the conclusion of agreements in the past decade between mining companies and First Nations is a vibrant example of such participation. Whether it be the Raglan Agreement with the Inuit from Nunavik, the Voisey's Bay Agreement with the Innu Nation or the Collaboration Agreement recently signed by Goldcorp and the Crees, those agreements demonstrate that mining development can take place and prosper, if First Nations participate and benefit from these projects. Ultimately, the Cree Nation Mining Policy and the conclusion of such agreements provide the mining industry precisely with what it has always asked for, namely, certainty and clarity with respect to the applicable rules and procedures which govern mineral development in Eeyou Istchee.
On the basis of our Cree Nation Mining Policy, we continue to be involved in the negotiation of similar agreements with mining proponents in the Eeyou Istchee region, and these negotiations are being conducted in a spirit of partnership and professional collaboration.
To convey the message that the Cree Nation Mining Policy or these agreements are inappropriate or burdensome is to cast a negative light on the development of the harmonious and peaceful climate which we, together with the Government of Québec, have been striving to create.
We are confident that the approach of the Crees will lead to the reconciliation of Cree and non-Cree interests for the betterment of everyone in Québec.