Date: Thu, 11 Sep 97 12:28:20 CDT
Subject: Quebec Cree Fear 'Ethnic Occupation' /p>
OttawaA 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.
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
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.