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Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones
Home > Press centre > Press releases > 2015 > November 18, 2015

The Gouvernement du Québec highlights the 40th anniversary of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement

Québec City, November 18, 2015. – The Premier of Québec, Philippe Couillard, and the Minister responsible for Native Affairs, Geoffrey Kelley, have tabled a motion in the National Assembly to recognize the 40th anniversary of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA).

“On behalf of the Gouvernement du Québec, I am delighted to acknowledge that this year marks the 40th anniversary of a major event in Québec's recent history: the signing of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement,” stated the Premier. “By its very scope, the Agreement was a decisive step in the long process to achieving a sustainable and constructive reconciliation with the Cree and Inuit nations.” 

“With the signing of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement and subsequent development agreements, the relationship between the Cree, the Inuit and the governments of Québec and Canada enjoys a solid and lasting framework,” Minister Kelley added. “We strongly believe that our joint efforts must continue to be aligned so that Aboriginal nations and Québec as a whole can benefit from such an important partnership. Together, we have paved the way and widened frontiers; we can proudly say the work has paid off.”

The Premier also took the opportunity to discuss the significant advances that have been made over the years following the signing. “Forty years later, the fundamental principles that led to concluding the JBNQA, namely dialogue, respect and the desire to develop the Québec territory with all who occupy it, to the benefit of all Québecers, still inform our relationship with the First Nations and Inuit. Our ties to the Aboriginal peoples are fundamentally important, and by working together we will continue to move Québec forward.”

About the Agreement

Forty years ago, on November 11, 1975, the governments of Canada and Québec, the Cree, the Inuit and three crown corporations, including Hydro-Québec, signed the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, the first land claim agreement concluded in modern times in Canada. This historic event, signed into effect by such luminaries as Billy Diamond, Charlie Watt and the Premier at the time, Robert Bourassa, would define the new relationship between the Cree and Québec.

This agreement conferred on Aboriginals protected rights to a large portion of the Québec territory to ensure their political, cultural and economic future. Thanks to the JBNQA, the Cree and Inuit now have greater autonomy and increased responsibility in the areas of education, justice, public safety, health and social services, local and regional administration, as well as in hunting, fishing and trapping.

The JBNQA also opened the way to conclude major agreements that consolidated existing partnerships, particularly with the signing of the Paix des Braves, the Agreement on Governance in the Eeyou Istchee James Bay Territory and, more recently, the Agreement to Resolve the Baril-Moses Forestry Dispute.

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