National Chief Phil Fontaine Applauds the Grand Council of the Crees $1.4 Billion Agreement with Federal Government as A Positive Step Forward
OTTAWA, July 17 – “I applaud the Grand Council of the Crees and the government of Canada for reaching yesterday’s $1.4 billion settlement. This deal was over 30 years in the making and was originally promised in the James Bay Agreement of 1975,” said National Chief Phil Fontaine. “Both Quebec and Canada have reaped huge economic rewards since thousands of square kilometers of traditional Cree lands were flooded to make way for the James Bay hydro-electric project. Finally, the Crees will begin to receive their full benefits as well.” The settlement, to be dispersed over 20 years, will also allow the Crees to continue developing and sustaining their unique form of self government. “In my view, self government is the critical foundation needed to build happy, healthy First Nation communities,” said National Chief Fontaine.
“This agreement is a positive step forward. There are many more chapters that need to be closed across the country in order to bring about the full expression of self-determination for all First Nations, and to close the poverty gap that exists between First Nations and Canadians,” said National Chief Fontaine.
“From the time of the signing of the first treaties to modern agreements, First Nations have experienced endless challenges in compelling the federal government to honour its legal treaty obligations,” stated the National Chief. “In response to a recent Senate Report on specific claims, titled Confrontation or Negotiation, we are attempting to work with the federal government to jointly draft new Specific Land Claims legislation. We hope it will speed up the settlement of the backlog of specific land claims for First Nations.”
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.
For further information: Bryan Hendry, A/Director of Communications, (613) 241-6789, ext. 229, cell (613) 293-6106, [email protected]; Nancy Pine, Communications Advisor, Office of the National Chief, (613) 241-6789, ext 243, cell (613) 298-6382, [email protected]; Josee Bellemare, Bilingual Communications Officer, (613) 241-6789, ext 336, [email protected]