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Home > Press centre > Press releases > 2014 > January 21, 2014

First session of the Eeyou Istchee James Bay Regional Government

A Historic Moment for First Nations Relations in Québec

Waskaganish, January 21, 2014 – François Gendron, Deputy Premier, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Minister responsible for the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region, today joined Martine Ouellet, Minister of Natural Resources and responsible for the Secrétariat au développement nordique, Élizabeth Larouche, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Luc Ferland, Member for Ungava and Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Natural Resources for northern affairs at a historic ceremony to mark the first session of the Eeyou Istchee James Bay Regional Government.

The event, which Premier Pauline Marois was keen to attend via video from Davos, was held at the invitation of Matthew Coon Come, Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Crees and of Manon Cyr, Mayor of Chibougamau, appointed as the regional government’s first chair for a two-year term.

“The creation of this administrative body marks a historic step forward in terms of harmonizing relations between the Québec government, the James Bay population, and the Cree regarding the governance of the territory of the former Municipalité de Baie-James. I strongly believe this progressive approach will let both communities contribute even more significantly to the prosperity of a territory with such a promising future,” said Minister Gendron.

“Structured to respond to its territory’s current issues and challenges, the new regional government will play a far greater role in northern development by creating a favourable climate for large-scale projects. In this sense, it will indeed serve as a catalyst for regional development, able to determine the development potential of natural resources and the land based on its specific needs,” said Minister Ouellet.

“This regional government is the first public management structure with both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal representation. It is a decisive step in building open and respectful relations between our two nations,” said Minister Élizabeth Larouche.

The regional government, whose council comprises 22 seats shared equally between the Cree and the James Bay population, exercises the powers and duties granted to a local municipality, a regional county municipality, a regional conference of elected officials and a regional land and natural resource commission for category III lands in the former Municipalité de Baie-James, a territory of 277,000 km2.

“The Eeyou Istchee James Bay Regional Government is the result of a long-standing tradition of ‘living together,’ which bears witness to the mature relationship between the Cree and the residents of James Bay, who have sat their representatives around the same table in our region for the first time in history,” said MNA Luc Ferland.

“As citizens of the North, we are all responsible for helping to build forward-looking partnerships for residents of the region, and this is the very opportunity we have thanks to the creation of the Eeyou Istchee James Bay Regional Government,” said Manon Cyr, Council Chair of the Regional Government and Mayor of Chibougamau.

“This Regional Government which we are inaugurating today reflects a vision of a new path for this region which is based on the noble principles of inclusiveness, democracy, and social harmony,” concluded Grand Chief Dr. Matthew Coon Come, Vice Chair of the Regional Government.

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  • Le 21 janvier dernier avait lieu, à Waskaganish, la première séance du Gouvernement régional d'Eeyou Istchee Baie-James, en compagnie notamment de la ministre des Ressources naturelles, Martine Ouellet, de la ministre déléguée aux Affaires autochtones, Élizabeth Larouche, du grand chef du Grand Conseil des Cris et vice-président du Gouvernement régional, Dr Matthew Coon Come, du député d’Ungava, Luc Ferland, et de la mairesse de Chibougamau et présidente du Gouvernement régional, Manon Cyr.

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