In an historic meeting held yesterday between the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee and Pekuakamiulnuatsh Takuhikan, parties discussed several issues of common interest and concern in a spirit of harmony and based on the common bonds of Indigenous brotherhood. They agreed to work on the renewal of formal links of discussion, which already existed in the past, and they are ready to work actively to find solutions to the actual issues that need to be oriented or resolved.
Among these issues are governance in the context of territorial overlaps, respective rights and cooperative approaches to involvement in resource development projects and management within the region and in the context of the Plan Nord and also the recent mandate given to Mr. Lucien Bouchard concerning the Baril-Moses forestry dispute.
Participating in the meeting were Grand Chief Dr. Matthew Coon Come, Chief Richard Shecapio (Mistissini Cree Nation), Chief Reggie Neeposh (Ouje-Bougoumou Cree Nation) representing the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee. Representing Pekuakamiulnuatsh Takuhikan were Chief Gilbert Dominique and vice-chiefs Stéphane Germain and Marjolaine Étienne (Mashteuiatsh).
The representatives of the two groups agreed to continue the positive discussions and to begin to address several specific issues in order to build a positive atmosphere of trust and mutual respect. They also gave a mandate to their technical staff to build an agenda of the subjects of discussion and a process to achieve their objectives.
Commenting on the outcome of the meeting, Grand Chief Dr. Matthew Coon Come stated: “We are extremely encouraged by the tone and the outcome of this very important gathering. It confirms for us that when Indigenous peoples come together to discuss fundamental issues we can be guided by our basic values of respect and an understanding of our common histories and common fundamental interests. We look forward to deepening and strengthening this relationship.”
On behalf of Pekuakamiulnuatsh Takuhikan, Chief Dominique stated: “This was a very positive meeting for us. As we do with all our neighbours from the region of Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, we also look forward to build and maintain with the Cree nation good relations based on the principles of mutual respect, partnership and collaboration. Our nations have had, since immemorial times, respectful relations on the territory. That is proven by the close relations a lot of our families have together. We are hopeful to be able to address our issues of common interest in a way that will be profitable for all our people.”
On behalf of the Cree Nation of Mistissini, Chief Richard Shecapio mentioned: “This meeting has been very encouraging. I am confident that by working closely with our Innu friends we will be able to find creative ways of addressing projects within our region which will result in our mutual benefit, and I am also confident that we can find creative solutions to larger issues of common interest.”
Finally, on behalf of the Ouje-Bougoumou Cree Nation, Chief Reggie Neeposh stated: “I am delighted by both the spirit of our meeting and also our agreement to continue to work together to resolve a range of issues which are of mutual concern. As we move forward, by continuing to be guided by our desire to express our common Indigenous values of respect and transparency, we will accomplish great things for our respective Indigenous nations.”