By Moses, Ted
Canadian Speeches , Vol. 16, No. 1
A 1975 agreement opened the way for development of some of the world's largest hydroelectric projects on lands occupied by 12,000 Cree in northern Quebec. But agreement later turned into bitter disagreement. The Cree launched legal actions seeking at least $3.6 billion for claimed breaches of the agreement, staged high profile demonstrations in Quebec and New York, and closed the door to further hydro projects. Now a new agreement in principle, signed late last year, lifts the legal action and offers the Cree $3.5 billion over 50 years ($70 million a year, indexed to inflation and the cost of electricity), a greater voice in hydro-electric and resource development, and a wide range of business and job opportunities. It also flashes a green light for another $3.8 billion power project by Quebec Hyrdo. Subsequent to signing the agreement, the Cree were offered contracts for $862 million in construction and other work related to the Eastmain-Rupert hydro development. Following are Ted oses' comments at Signing o f the Agreement in Principle, Quebec City, October 23,2001
Good morning ladies and gentlemen. Thank you Mr. Premier and distinguished ministers, chiefs and guests.
This is a historic day for the Cree nation and the Quebec nation. Today Premier Landry and I will sign an agreement in principle with respect to a new relationship between the Crees and Quebec. This agreement will lead to a final agreement by the end of this year. This historic agreement will recognize the interest that both the Cree people and Quebec have in the future administration and development of Quebec. By this Agreement we stand with Quebec because we share the intention to develop this land in a way which is respectful of its vital importance to our survival and mindful that both Crees and Quebecers must have the means to create a common future of prosperity. This Agreement marks a turning point where the Crees and Quebec have decided to put the weight of history behind them and accept the challenge of resolving our differences in a peaceful manner so that we may work together for a stronger future for both of us.
It is not coincidental that this decision is arrived at after the horrific and tragic events of September 11. That day people throughout North America realized how small the world is and how important it is to resolve issues rather than to let them divide us. I hope that everyone will see the major unifying aspects of this announcement. To do otherwise would be to repeat the mistakes of the past and keep both Quebec and the Cree backed up into the corners that our fighting has placed us in.
With this agreement in principle we are opening the door and I see co-operation and mutual respect between us. I see a Quebec which looks on the Cree people as an important part of the political, economic, cultural and linguistic character of this land and as partners in development. I see the Cree people working with the Quebecois on joint projects and on a shared vision of our common interests in the land.
I met with Premier Landry a few months ago. We had a very open and frank discussion about our visions for our nations. We sign this agreement in principle today because of the vision we now share. This is the vision of a new nation to nation relationship based on the common desire of ensuring a flourishing Quebec and a flourishing Cree nation. I believe Mr. Landry's leadership must be recognized and commended. Again Quebec and the Cree will be showing the rest of the world a new way to approach relations between aboriginal and non-aboriginal peoples.
The James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement that was signed in 1975 was a monumental agreement. It was the result of long and difficult negotiations. It set a foundation for future relations. The JBNQA contains principles for protecting and enhancing the Cree way of life and leaves room for Cree aspirations. …