The Grand Council of the Crees

Speaking Notes for Deputy Grand Chief Ashley Iserhoff

Regional Gala - Grands Prix Du Tourisme Québécois 2012, Waswanipi, Eeyou Istchee

Posted: 2012-03-29

Mayor Cyr of Chibougamau,
Mayor Gamache of Chapais,
Mr. Ferland, MLA for Ungava,
Chief Neeposh of Oujé-Bougoumou,
Chief Shecapio of Mistissini,
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen: 

I would like to thank the organizers of this important gala for the opportunity to speak on the Cree perspective on tourism in Eeyou Istchee.

On behalf of the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee, I would like to congratulate the tourism leaders who are getting recognition this evening.  With your hard work, your passion and your vision, and most of all with your unrivalled sense of hospitality, you are providing tourists with first-rate experiences that they will cherish forever.

We know that entrepreneurs across our beautiful region are working very hard to improve touristic offerings, and the Crees are no strangers to this movement.  I will take a minute of your time to highlight some of our latest achievements.

I would first of all like to mention the efforts of the Cree Outfitting and Tourism Association and of Eeyou Istchee Tourism, both of which must be commended for their vision and their desire to build a sustainable tourism industry in our region.  Their efforts to promote Eeyou Istchee as a premier destination for First Nations tourism, outdoor adventure and outfitting are getting more and more recognition each year.  I should also mention the fruitful partnership that our Associations have with James Bay Tourism, which is beneficial to everyone involved in the industry, as illustrated by tonight’s gala and the publishing of the Eeyou Istchee / James Bay Tourism Guide.

Vous savez que l’année 2011 a été une année significative, parce qu’elle a marqué la mise sur pied de notre Institut culturel cri Aanischaaukamikw à Ouje Bougoumou.  Cette installation de pointe, qui abrite un extraordinaire nouveau musée, un centre culturel, des archives et une bibliothèque, est un écrin splendide pour l’histoire des Cris de la Baie James.  Nous sommes prêts à vous accueillir, vous et vos clients, et nous avons hâte de partager notre culture avec vous, afin que vous puissiez pénétrer dans notre monde et comprendre comment nous sommes devenus qui nous sommes aujourd’hui.]

As you may be aware, as part of the government’s Tourism Strategy for Northern Quebec, we are involved in renovations and the expansion of the Maquatua Inn in Wemindji, which represents an overall investment of 2.2 million dollars this year.  Through this investment, we not only contribute to the economic development of a community and of its members, but we also maximize local benefits that will be felt both socially and culturally.

In terms of future projects, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the extension of Route 167 into the Otish Mountains, which is a positive step for the development of mining, but which also opens possibilities for exploring the beauty of our rugged territory.  We are also working on plans to develop and manage service areas along our roads, which will improve the quality of services offered to travellers to our land.

There are many potential projects that are coming in the wake of Plan Nord, and with all the prospects that it is creating in our region.  We are approaching all of these opportunities in a spirit of partnership and mutual respect, and through our cooperation, we hope that together, we will build a better future for us all.

On that subject, I should not leave you without saying a few words about one of our current major files, that of our regional governance.  In May of last year, when we signed the Framework Agreement on Governance in the Eeyou Ischee James Bay Territory with the Government of Québec, "This Framework Agreement marks a significant step towards the modernization of the governance regime in Eeyou Istchee James Bay. More importantly, it signals a firm intention to recognize the appropriate roles of the Crees and of our neighbours in the governance of the Territory. We look forward to assuming our rightful place in the governance of the Territory."

This message rings true for all of us, and it paves the way to a better future, not only for the Crees, but for all Jamesians.  We know that with a new governance structure that encompasses us all, we will be able to develop a common vision for what we want to accomplish in our region.  This new governance will allow us all to reap the benefits of our incredible economic, social, cultural and touristic potential.

Encore une fois, toutes mes félicitations aux leaders du tourisme qui sont reconnus ce soir, et à tous ceux et celles qui ont cette passion de mettre en valeur la beauté de notre région.

Meegwetch.  Thank You.  Merci.