Ouje-Bougoumou, January 31, 2012
Chief Neeposh, Deputy Chief Bosum, Councillors, Mayor Cir, Mayor Gamache, Distinguished Guests from BlackRock Metals:
Let me first thank Chief Reggie Neeposh, on behalf of the Cree Nation of Oujé-Bougoumou, for hosting us on this special occasion, the signature of the Pre-Development Agreement between BlackRock Metals, the Cree Nation of Oujé-Bougoumou, the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) and the Cree Regional Authority. Please allow me to take a moment to thank a few of the key individuals involved in this endeavour:
First and foremost, Chief Neeposh and the Council of the Cree Nation of Oujé-Bougoumou – you have shown what the Crees can accomplish through imagination and unity with the Cree Nation.
On behalf of the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) and the Cree Regional Authority, I want to thank our negotiator, Mr. Abel Bosum. Abel’s long experience as a negotiator on complex files was brought to bear in driving toward the successful conclusion of this Pre-Development Agreement. And recognition is due to the team of advisors who worked closely with Abel in this undertaking.
Lastly, I want to welcome the representatives of the BlackRock Metals family to Eeyou Istchee. Mr. Rainville. We welcome the approach taken by your company in this matter; your approach in building relationships with the Cree Nation is to be commended. The constant support and assistance of your representatives should also be acknowledged. Mr. Scherrer, your commitment to this Pre-Development Agreement augurs well for our continued discussions. Ms. Leroux, your past experience working with the Crees on environmental matters will prove to be a useful tool and we trust that BlackRock will demonstrate its leadership role in this regard. Ms. Marois, you know more than anyone what employment and human resources issues that we will have to address and we are confident that your contribution will help us achieve our goals. Finally, Mr. Langlois, your vast experience in Aboriginal issues and mining law will be essential to our discussions.
The signature of this Agreement marks another tangible step forward in the active participation of the Crees, as partners, in the economic and social development of Eeyou Istchee.
Through the vision of the Council of the Cree Nation of Oujé-Bougoumou, the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee), the Cree Regional Authority and their united approach, the Crees have ensured with the collaboration of BlackRock Metals that the economic development of Eeyou Istchee will take place with the Crees as active partners, not just passive bystanders.
This Pre-Development Agreement is living proof that when the Crees stand united, we accomplish great things. This Pre-Development Agreement will provide meaningful participation of the Crees of Oujé-Bougoumou in the pre-development activities of BlackRock Metals but more importantly, it sets a proper tone of cooperation and partnership as we embark on discussions for a final agreement on the project, which we know will provide benefits in the form of employment, training, business opportunities and economic benefits.
In addition, this Pre-Development Agreement is yet again concrete evidence of what we have always said: The Crees are not anti-development. Through the adoption of the Cree Nation Mining Policy and the execution of this Pre-Development Agreement, we have undertaken to support and participate in resource development within our Traditional Territory, provided that: (i) our rights are respected, (ii) appropriate measures are taken to protect the environment and our traditional activities and (iii) benefits flow to our communities.
Ultimately, this Pre-Development Agreement and the final agreement to be concluded between us reflect our common vision: In order to ensure the prosperity of the Territory and the success of the BlackRock Project, the Crees must be involved as partners. We have much to contribute, and we ask nothing better than to partner with others for the benefit of all.