I think it might be useful to understand the historical context that led to the current legislation. This agreement was the result of seven years of negotiations and has been in preparation for more than 40 years. The Crees signed the 1975 James Bay and Northern Quebec Accord, the first modern Aboriginal land claims agreement in Canada. This agreement stems from the Agreement on a New Relationship between the Government of Canada and the Cree of Eeyou Istchee, signed in 2008. Negotiations on the last agreement began in 2009 and were completed in autumn 2016. After extensive consultations, the nine Cree First Nations and the Cree Nation government formally adopted the Governance Agreement and Creative Constitution this spring. I was totally shocked and horrified to learn that some of our local chiefs and deputy chiefs sought advice on this governance agreement from a law firm that in the past was actively working against the interests created in representing other clients. It is a company that we transferred to Ouje-Bougoumou a few years ago because of several conflicts of interest that they did not communicate to us themselves, and that they thought we would not realize it. It is a society that represents other Aboriginal groups that are encouraged to sign agreements that lead to the surrender of important rights.
This law firm has no historical connection to the Cree Nation and has no deep understanding of our history. It doesn`t make any sense to me. It is a company that will give an opinion that they believe the people who hired it want to hear it while promoting their own opportunistic interests. For my part, I am very sceptical about their conclusions. Second, the Governance Agreement and the Cree Constitution remove federal oversight of creative governance in areas of category IA. We will no longer adopt statutes, but laws, like any normal government. We will no longer submit our laws to the minister for review and approval. It will be up to us, and only us, to decide which laws govern us.
As a mature government, this is a responsibility that we are more than willing to assume. In particular, this legislation brings into force the Cree Nation Governance Agreement between the Crees of Eeyou Istchee and the Government of Canada. Bill C-70 also provides mechanisms to improve the internal governance of the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach and creates a new role for the Cree-Naskapi Commission. The first subdivision was between the Crees and the province of Quebec. Bill C-70 refers to the second comparison made in 2008 between the Government of Canada and the Crees of Eeyou Istchee. The transaction provided $1.4 billion and gave the Crees responsibility for managing certain federal commitments for 20 years, until 2028. Of that amount, $200 million was set aside until the completion of a Cree Nation governance agreement which, as I said before, was reached in July 2017. “Now we are following what our people have done in the past.