Canada and the Crees of Eeyou Istchee Sign Agreement on Cree Nation Governance
July 18, 2017 Ottawa, On Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada
The Government of Canada and the Crees of Eeyou Istchee are taking a major step towards reconciliation today with the signing of an important governance agreement.
The Agreement on Cree Nation Governance (Governance Agreement) was signed today by the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, for the Government of Canada, and by Grand Chief Dr. Matthew Coon Come for the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)/Cree Nation Government. The Chiefs of the Cree First Nations of Eeyou Istchee also signed the Concurrence to the Governance Agreement.
This Agreement flows from the Agreement Concerning a New Relationship Between the Government of Canada and the Cree of Eeyou Istchee, signed in 2008. Negotiations on the latest agreement began in 2009 and were concluded in the autumn of 2016. After intensive consultations, all of the nine Cree First Nations and the Cree Nation Government formally approved the Governance Agreement and Cree Constitution this spring.
This Agreement and its companion, the Cree Constitution, set out a comprehensive regime of Cree self-governance on lands subject to federal jurisdiction under the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement of 1975, the first modern Indigenous land claims agreement and treaty in Canada. The new Agreement and Constitution will remove the Cree from the application of the Cree-Naskapi (of Québec) Act, a federal statute adopted in 1984.
The Governance Agreement sets out the power of the Cree First Nations to make laws (instead of by-laws) on a wide variety of local governance on Cree Category IA lands under federal jurisdiction, including environmental protection, public order and safety, land and resource use and planning. The Agreement also sets out the power of Cree Nation Government to make laws on regional governance matters on Cree Category IA lands concerning, for example, standards for essential sanitation and fire protection. The Agreement maintains the existing land regime on these lands, including access and the grant of rights in lands and buildings. It also defines long-term financial arrangements with Canada.
“We know that strong governance and self-determination are the greatest contributing factors to the social and economic health of a community, including its overall well-being. Today’s Governance Agreement will build on the successes of the Cree Nation by enabling law-making powers on federal Cree community lands that reflect their culture, priorities and aspirations. I am honoured to stand alongside the Crees of Eeyou Istchee as we advance reconciliation together and celebrate the continued success of the Cree Nation.”
The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, MD, PC, MP
Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs
“The Agreement on Cree Nation Governance signed today recognizes the Cree Nation Government and the Cree First Nations as mature and responsible governments. It continues the work of implementing Cree self governance under our treaty, the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement. It will provide the Cree First Nations and the Cree Nation Government with greater autonomy in the governance of Category IA lands. It marks another advance in Cree Nation building and in our nation-to-nation relationship with Canada.”
Dr. Matthew Coon Come
Chairman, Cree Nation Government
Grand Chief, Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)
The Governance Agreement and Cree Constitution remove federal oversight of Cree governance on Category IA lands, and make the Cree First Nations and Cree Nation Government fully responsible for their self-governance.
Canada will provide to the Crees of Eeyou Istchee the “third payment” of $200 million provided for in the 2008 New Relationship Agreement within 30 days of Royal Assent of the governance legislation.
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada
Cree Nation Government
Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)
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