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La Paix des braves opens the way to new cooperation and a new era of prosperity for the James Bay region

Waskaganish, Thursday, February 7, 2002 - The Prime Minister of Québec, Mr. Bernard Landry and the Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Crees, Mr. Ted Moses, signed this morning, in Waskaganish, a historic agreement for fifty years, which will mark the beginning of a new nation to nation relationship between Québec and the Crees. The nation to nation agreement will ensure a new phase of economic, social and community development in the James Bay region.

On this occasion, Mr. Landry and Mr. Moses were accompanied by Mr. Rémy Trudel, Minister of State for the Population and Aboriginal Affairs, Mr. Gilles Baril, Minister of State for Natural Resources and the Regions, and Mr. Michel Létourneau, Minister responsible for the Development of Northern Québec. Also in attendance were the Chiefs of the nine Cree communities : Chief Abraham Rupert of Chisasibi, Chief Edward Gilpin Jr. of Eastmain, Chief John Longchap of Mistissini, Chief George Wapache of Nemiscau, Chief Sam R. Bosum of Oujé-Bougoumou, Chief Robert Weistche of Waskaganish, Chief Paul Gull of Waswanipi, Chief Reggie Mark of Wemindji and Chief David Masty of Whapmagoostui.

"The signing of this agreement by our two peoples has paved the way to new cooperation based on mutual respect, dialogue and trust. In many ways, both our nations have proved to be innovators and precursors. In fact, the eyes of many nations are upon us. This is a unique opportunity for us to prove our will and determination to ensure that this partnership is an exemplary success", stated the Mr Landry.

"The Cree nation has entered the 21st Century with a renewed spirit as it prepares to face new challenges. The agreement that is being signed today represents the culmination of their struggle to achieve recognition of their rights. Premier Bernard Landry and I have decided to set aside the weight of History so that together we can develop a new and harmonious relationship", declared Mr. Ted Moses.

Establishing a new nation to nation relationship

In conformity with the agreement in principle, signed last October 23, the agreement is based on the establishment of a new relationship between the two nations and provides for increased management by the Crees of their own economic and community development. The agreement also aims at ensuring the completion of major hydro-electric projects within the James Bay Territory and the harmonization of forestry activities with traditional Cree activities. In addition, the agreement provides for the withdrawal of the multi-billion dollar law suits that are currently pending before the Courts. In a similar spirit, the Cree nation undertakes not to bring law suits or seek other redress from Québec with respect to the past application of the JBNQA.

The agreement has the support of all the Chiefs of the Cree communities. The Cree population voted 70 % in support of the agreement through a series of referenda, held in each community.

Promoting the economic development of the James Bay region and of all Québec

The agreement marks the commencement of the largest hydro-electric projects undertaken in Québec since the 1980s. Work on the Eastmain 1 power station will begin next April. At the same time, the different stages that are to permit the realization of the Eastmain 1-A/Rupert diversion project will get underway. The two projects are expected to generate 4 billion dollars in investments and create 10,500 new jobs over the next nine years. The project site work will begin thanks to the new spirit of cooperation and will generate important economic benefits for both Crees and Québec businesses.

The forestry provisions call for increased Cree participation in the development of forestry resources. Their participation will take concrete form through the creation of a Cree-Québec Forestry Board and joint working groups that will be created at the community level to ensure implementation of the terms stipulated in the agreement. Moreover, specific conditions have been introduced to facilitate improved consideration of the traditional Cree way of life.

Allowing the Crees to assume more responsibility for their economic development

The undertakings by Québec arising from the JBNQA with regards to the economic and community development of the Crees will henceforth be assumed by the latter. In order to ensure that the Crees are adequately prepared to assume such increased responsibilities, the Government of Québec has undertaken to pay $23 million in 2002 - 2003, $46 million in 2003-2004 and $70 million in 2004-2005. In subsequent years, this contribution will be indexed to reflect the evolution of the economic activity in the territory in the hydro-electric, forestry and mining sectors.

This historic agreement marks a major turning point in favour of renewed cooperation and partnership between Québec and the Crees for the development and management of the natural resources of the James Bay convention territory.

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Hubert Bolduc
Attaché de presse
Cabinet du premier ministre
Tél. : 418 643-5321

Roméo Saganash
Director for relations with Québec
Grand Council of the Crees
Tél. : 418 564-1598

Signature gouvernementale
Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones
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