Historic ceremony at the first session of the Eeyou Istchee James Bay Regional Government to mark its inauguration.
In June 2013, a law was adopted to implement various provisions of the Governance Agreement. The law, which is referred to as the Act establishing the Eeyou Istchee James Bay Regional Government and introducing certain legislative amendments concerning the Cree Nation Government, enabled the Regional Government to come into force on January 1, 2014 and thereby replace the MBJ.
In addition, the Administration régionale Baie-James (ARBJ) replaced the Conférence régionale des élus de la Baie-James (CREBJ). The ARBJ's Board of Directors is made up of the mayors of the towns of Chapais, Chibougamau, Lebel-sur-Quévillon and Matagami, as well as the chairpersons of the local councils of Radisson, Valcanton and Villebois.
The Gouvernement du Québec and the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee signed a historic agreement: the Agreement on Governance in the Eeyou Istchee James Bay Territory.
On February 7, 2002, more than 25 years after the signature of the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement (JBNQA), the Gouvernement du Québec and the Cree Nation entered into a nation-to-nation agreement to establish a partnership on economic and community development for a term of 50 years. This agreement was described by then Grand Chief Ted Moses as the “Paix des Braves”. It marked the beginning of a new era in relations between Québec and the Crees. In fact, the Paix des Braves is based on a cooperative approach to the implementation of the JBNQA, adapted to the economic and social reality of the Crees, in a context of increasing modernization.
The Paix des Braves seeks primarily to develop a new nation-to-nation relationship between the Crees and Québec based on trust and mutual respect. This agreement also promotes respect for the principles of sustainable development and the traditional way of life of the Crees, as well as increased Cree autonomy and responsibility for development.
This agreement, innovative in more ways than one, enables the parties to work together to develop the territory’s natural resources. These are conditions that allow development of hydroelectric, mining and forestry projects, thereby ensuring better sharing of resources with the Crees.
The Paix des Braves therefore makes it possible to look forward with confidence to the economic development of the Eeyou Istchee James Bay Territory and a future of shared prosperity and cooperation.
In the early 1970s, a dispute arose between the Gouvernement du Québec and the Crees and Inuit of Northern Québec in relation to the James Bay Hydroelectric Project. This disagreement led the parties to undertake negotiations to organize the development of the territory and to plan resource use, while enabling the Gouvernement du Québec to fulfill its obligations to the Crees and Inuit.
These negotiations led to the signature on November 11, 1975, of the JBNQA by the Gouvernement du Québec, the Government of Canada, the Crees of Eeyou Istchee and the Inuit of Nunavik. This was an agreement without precedent in the history of relations between a State and Aboriginal peoples, both in Canada and in North America.
The JBNQA makes it possible:
- to recognize the rights of the Cree Nation concerning the ownership and management of certain lands, as well as exclusive hunting, fishing, and trapping rights on part of the territory subject to the JBNQA;
- to pave the way to self-government through the creation of various public bodies managed by the Cree Nation, particularly in the areas of local and regional government, health and social services, education, and income security;
- to strengthen institutional relations between the Crees and the Gouvernement du Québec; and
- to organize a territory with an area of approximately one million square kilometres, extending roughly from the 48th to the 62nd parallel.
Land Regime (Cree)
The JBNQA establishes three categories of lands in James Bay and Northern Québec. This new land regime seeks to meet the needs of the Crees and of Québec.