The Agreement concerning a New Relationship between the Government of Canada and the Cree of Eeyou Istchee of 2008 sets out a process for negotiations leading to a Cree Nation Governance Agreement and a Cree Constitution. These negotiations have now been completed.
The final drafts of the Governance Agreement and Cree Constitution are available for consultation at the offices of the Cree First Nations. Consultations are currently taking place with the Cree beneficiaries, Cree First Nations and other Cree stakeholders. The Governance Agreement must be formally approved by resolution of each of the Cree First Nations and of the Cree Nation Government as well as by the Government of Canada before it is signed. Once these steps are completed, the Governance Agreement will take effect when the federal legislation approving it takes effect.
The Governance Agreement and Cree Constitution strengthen Cree self-government on Category IA lands in the context of the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement (JBNQA). They will provide the Cree with greater autonomy and flexibility in governance on Category IA lands. They will also provide long-term predictability of funding for the Cree First Nations and Cree Nation Government.
In summary, the Governance Agreement will make more efficient existing governance powers and procedures on Category IA lands under the JBNQA and the Cree-Naskapi (of Quebec) Act. Arrangements regarding Cree local and regional governance on Category IA lands will be transferred from the Cree-Naskapi (of Québec) Act into the Governance Agreement and Cree Constitution. Once the Governance Agreement takes effect, the Cree-Naskapi (of Québec) Act will no longer apply to the Cree beneficiaries, Cree First Nations or Category IA lands. The Governance Agreement will address three main subjects:
Under the Governance Agreement, the Cree First Nations will keep the same local government powers, functions and responsibilities that they have now on Category IA lands. The Cree Nation Government will keep the same powers that it now has on Category IA lands concerning, for example, standards for essential sanitation and fire protection.
It is also important to understand what the Governance Agreement does not do:
The Cree Constitution, for its part, starts with a short statement of key Cree values and principles. It goes on to set out arrangements regarding the exercise of the Cree right of self-government in relation to the administration and internal management of the Cree First Nations and the Cree Nation Government on Category IA lands.
These internal governance arrangements are currently set out in the Cree-Naskapi (of Québec) Act and will be transferred into the Cree Constitution. These arrangements concern subjects such as procedures for making laws and resolutions, elections, meetings and referenda, financial administration and amendment of the Constitution.
It is important to note that the Cree Constitution can change over time if desired by the Cree. This is because, unlike the Cree-Naskapi (of Québec) Act, the Cree Constitution will not be set out in a federal law. Instead, it will be a purely internal instrument of Cree self-government. It will not be approved by Canada or Québec. This means that the Cree may change the Constitution if they wish to do so in the future in order to reflect changed conditions, without the participation of Canada.
The Governance Agreement, the Cree Constitution and the Cree laws adopted pursuant to them will all have the force of law and be binding on all persons. Together, they represent another step in implementing Cree self government in compliance with the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement treaty. They will provide the Cree First Nations and the Cree Nation Government with important tools to assume greater autonomy and responsibility in the governance of Category IA lands.
The Governance Agreement and Cree Constitution?
What does this mean for Eeyou Istchee?
To learn more about this, consultations with Cree beneficiaries, Cree First Nations and other Cree stakeholders will take place early in 2017
The GCC(EI)/CNG invites you to participate in this important conversation:
Waswanipi, Community Complex (Evening)
Washaw-Sibi, Hotel Amosphere in Amos (1:30 PM)
Nemaska, Sports Complex (Evening)
Waskaganish, Gathering Place (Evening)
Mistissini, Sports Complex (Evening)
Chisasibi, Mitchuap (Evening)
Eastmain, Complex Gym (Afternoon)
Wemindji, Community Hall (Evening)
Ouje-Bougoumou, Youth Center (Afternoon)
Whapmagoostui, Date and Location TBD
MoCreebec, Date and Location TBD
The Governance Agreement and Cree Constitution will strengthen Cree self-government on Category IA lands in the context of the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement (JBNQA). They will provide us with greater autonomy and flexibility in governance within our communities and provide long-term security and predictability while allowing us to retain the same local and regional government powers, functions, and responsibilities.
For more information call at (613) 761-1655 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org