The Grand Council of the Crees

Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) / Cree Nation Government Welcomes Ratification By Government Of Canada Of Cree Nation Governance Agreement

Posted: 2017-06-29

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NEMASKA, Eeyou Istchee, Quebec (June 29, 2017) – The Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)/Cree Nation Government has received confirmation from the Government of Canada that the federal Cabinet has approved the Cree Nation Governance Agreement and has authorized its signature.

The Agreement concerning a New Relationship between the Government of Canada and the Cree of Eeyou Istchee, signed in 2008, provided for the negotiation of this Cree Nation Governance Agreement and the development by the Cree Nation of a Cree Constitution. Negotiations with Canada began in 2009 and were concluded in the autumn of 2016. After intensive consultations, all of the Cree First Nations and the Cree Nation Government formally approved the Governance Agreement and Cree Constitution this spring.

The Governance Agreement and Cree Constitution will strengthen Cree self-government on Category IA lands under the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement of 1975, the first modern Indigenous land claim agreement and treaty in Canada.

The Governance Agreement provides for the jurisdiction of the Cree First Nations and Cree Nation Government to make laws (instead of by-laws) on Category IA lands. It maintains the existing land regime on Category IA lands, including access and the grant of rights in lands and buildings. It also defines financial arrangements with Canada, including long-term commitments for Operations and Maintenance and Capital Grant funding.

The Cree Constitution is an internal Cree governance instrument. After a statement of some key Cree values and principles, the Cree Constitution sets out arrangements for the exercise of the Cree right of self-government in the administration and internal management of the Cree First Nations and the Cree Nation Government on Category IA lands. The Cree Constitution provides a basic outline of Cree internal governance upon which the Cree Nation can build without the involvement of Canada.

Grand Chief Dr. Matthew Coon Come noted the satisfaction of the Cree Nation with the ratification by the federal Cabinet of the Cree Nation Governance Agreement.

“The negotiations leading to the Cree Nation Governance Agreement were long, complex and at times challenging. Throughout this process, the Cree Nation was guided by the basic principle of respect for Cree treaty rights under the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement.

I am pleased that the Governance Agreement and Cree Constitution respect this principle. Together, they represent another step in implementing Cree self-government in compliance with the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement treaty. They will provide the Cree First Nations and the Cree Nation Government with important tools to assume greater autonomy and responsibility in the governance of Category IA lands. They mark another advance in Cree Nation building.”

Arrangements for the signature of the Cree Nation Governance Agreement are expected to be communicated shortly.