WHAPMAGOOSTUI, QC, Sept. 6, 2012 /CNW/ - Today, Dr. Matthew Coon Come, Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) and Chairman of the Cree Regional Authority, inaugurated the Whapmagoostui Justice Facility in the presence of Madame Justice Danielle Côté, Associate Chief Justice of the Court of Québec, Criminal and Penal Division, as well as Stanley George, Chief of Whapmagoostui, Rhoda Angutiguluk, Mayor of Kuujjuarapik, and other distinguished guests.
Following the inauguration of justice facilities in the communities of Mistissini, Waswanipi, Oujé-Bougoumou, Chisasibi, Wemindji, and Waskaganish, the Whapmagoostui Justice Facility is the seventh of nine (9) facilities to be constructed in the Cree communities of Eeyou Istchee. These facilities will be wholly managed and operated by the Crees, and they will host the hearings of the Québec and Superior Courts as well as house the local Justice Committees. These facilities will also offer a range of judicial and parajudicial services and programs, such as family services, mediation, and preventive and reintegration programs.
The opening of this facility is a new milestone in the relationship between the Crees and Québec and it represents an important exercise of self-governance for the Cree Nation. The James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, signed in 1975, deals with the administration of justice in the Cree communities and provides for a system that is founded on two fundamental principles, Cree participation in the administration of justice, and the reconciliation between Aboriginal values and the Canadian model and laws.
In his address, Grand Chief Dr. Matthew Coon Come highlighted the significance of the inauguration of this justice center in the North: "This facility is an important statement that building appropriate infrastructure in the North is possible. It is also an equally important milestone for the justice system in Whapmagoogstui. This building, and all the new programs it will house, will be crucial in developing a justice system in Whapmagoostui over which each community member feels ownership and which upholds justice in an efficient and respectful manner."
The construction of the Whapmagoostui Justice Facility was made possible, in part, by the signing of an agreement with the Government of Québec on the administration of justice for the Crees in 2007. The Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)/Cree Regional Authority has established its own Department of Justice and Correctional Services to help implement various programs and to support community Justice Committees.