[Documents menu] The history in general of the Cree

Date: Thu, 11 Sep 97 12:28:20 CDT
From: S.I.S.I.S. <SISIS@envirolink.org>
Subject: Quebec Cree Fear 'Ethnic Occupation' /p>

Quebec Cree fear ethnic occupation

Jack Aubry, The Vancouver Sun,
Tuesday 9 September 1997, page A6, Southam News

Ottawa—A plan by the provincially owned utility to increase the Quebecois population in the North is being called an ethnic occupation by the Cree. Aboriginal leaders say Hydro-Quebec is considering a plan that would settle up to 2,000 mostly non-aboriginal residents in the James Bay area in the heartland of Cree territory, and that the plan has much more to do with separating from Canada than economic development. Quebec sovereignty is the motive behind this plan. It is part of an attempt to declare the North as part of the future, modern, independent state of Quebec, said Cree official Bill Namagoose. They want to drown out the Cree vote in any future referendum. Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard visits northern Quebec today, with a sleep-over in Radisson. After a visit with the Cree in June, he is returning to meet Inuit leaders in an ongoing attempt to normalize relations with northern aboriginal peoples.

An official with Hydro Quebec said the utility would not be able to respond to the report until today. Hydro also expects to save about $80 million a year by requiring employees to live in the area. The Cree and the Inuit, whose territories make up almost two-thirds of the province, voted moer than 95% to stay in Canada in their own referendums in 1995. They have also been leaders of the province's partition movement, having stated during even the first referendum in 1980 that they had the right to stay in Canada, along with their territory.

The Cree say Quebec wants to solidify its hold on the North by putting a French face on the area. Namagoose also noted the recent naming of 101 islands after Quebec authors to commemorate the province's language Bill 101. Those islands already have Cree names. They are, in fact, mountain tops left from flooding for hydro projects, said Namagoose. And, he says, the Quebec government no longer refers to the territory as the James Bay area, but rather as the region of Radisonnerie. The town of Radisson is named after the French voyageur and explorer Pierre-Esprit Radisson. A 102 page working group report on the impact of the utility's presence in the region calls for locating 700 permanent workers in Radisson and near the La Grande hydro project. With families making the move, the influx would likely result in an increase of population of about 2,000. Only 76 workers live permenently now in Radisson, a village of fewer than 500. Most workers are flown in and out by the provincial utility.

The report does not see the Cree as potential workers on future hydro projects. It says that non-aboriginal residents in the territory don't enjoy the same rights as the Cree and Inuit.