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Agreements and related Legislation

The Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) and the Cree Nation Government have entered into a number of agreements with the Governments of Canada and Quebec concerning various matters of interest to the Cree Nation, including agreements relating to or involving justice issues. Some of these agreements, and their related legislation, include the following:

James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement

The James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (“JBNQA”) is a landmark agreement and the first modern treaty with an Indigenous group in Canada. The JBNQA was signed on November 11, 1975 between the Grand Council of the Crees (of Québec), the Northern Québec Inuit Association, the Government of Québec, la Société d’énergie de la Baie James, la Société de développement de la Baie James, la Commission hydroélectrique de Québec (Hydro Québec) and the Government of Canada.

The JBNQA and subsequent related agreements, legislation and undertakings provide to the Cree Nation and the Cree people of Eeyou Istchee a broad range of powers, rights and benefits in various areas, including land and resource use planning and management, the administration of justice, policing, environmental and social protection, harvesting, economic and social development, education, local government, and health and social services.

The JBNQA was approved, given effect and declared valid by the James Bay and Northern Québec Native Claims Settlement Act (Canada) and the Act approving the Agreement concerning James Bay and Northern Québec (Quebec).

>> PDF copy of the Agreement.

 

Agreement concerning the Administration of Justice for the Crees

The Agreement concerning the Administration of Justice for the Crees between le Gouvernement du Québec and the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) and the Cree Nation Government (“Justice Agreement”) was signed on May 30, 2007.  Through the Justice Agreement, the parties set out their agreement concerning the resolution of the issues involving Québec and relating to Section 18 of the JBNQA.

In particular, the Justice Agreement provided for the establishment of the Cree-Quebec Judicial Advisory Committee, which was contemplated in the JBNQA (1975).  

The Justice Agreement establishes a formula for the provision of annual justice funding for the Crees.  It also establishes the parameters around which these funds, controlled by the Cree Nation Government, are to be used to improve the administration of justice for Crees and in the Cree communities. These funds are to be used, among other, for initiatives related to the justice system and the correctional system, including:

  • community justice services;
  • development and implementation of bush based services;
  • programs for victims of criminal acts;
  • programs for Cree detainees;
  • facilities for reintegration of Cree offenders and community-based programs and services;
  • facilities for court hearings and justice related purposes;
  • information sessions and judicial terminology workshops;
  • other initiatives recommended by the Cree-Quebec Judicial Advisory Committee.
>> PDF copy of the Agreement.

 

Federal New Relationship Agreement

The Agreement concerning a New Relationship between the Government of Canada and the Crees of Eeyou Istchee (“Federal NRA”) was entered into by the Government of Canada, the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) and the Cree Nation Government on February 21, 2008.

The main purposes of the Federal NRA include, among others:

  • to establish a new relationship between Canada and the Cree Nation;
  • to improve the implementation of the JBNQA;
  • to provide for the assumption by the Cree Nation Government of certain responsibilities of Canada under the JBNQA for the term of the Federal NRA;
  • to resolve various claims, grievances, disputes and other matters between Canada and the Crees and to provide a framework for the resolution of future issues that may arise.

Chapter 4 of the Federal NRA provides that for the 20 year term of that agreement, the Cree Nation Government shall assume, with funds provided for under the Federal NRA, the responsibilities of Canada to the Cree Nation and the Crees under various provisions of the JBNQA, including Section 18 regarding the Administration of Justice (Crees), except in regard to appointment of justices of the peace, amendments to legislation and incarceration of Crees.  In other words, for the term of the Federal NRA, Canada shall continue to assume the costs associated with Crees detained now or in the future within the federal incarceration system.

The federal JBNQA responsibilities assumed by the Cree Nation Government under the Federal NRA  include post-detention rehabilitation institutions, almshouses, workhouses and refuges for women as contemplated in sub-paragraph 18.0.29 e) of the JBNQA as well as special programs after release as contemplated in sub-paragraph 18.0.29 g) of the JBNQA. 

>> PDF copy of the Agreement, and summary prepared by the Grand Council of the Crees.

  

Cree-Naskapi Act

The Cree-Naskapi (of Quebec) Act came about as a result of the JBNQA and the Northeastern Quebec Agreement (NEQA). Under Section 9 of the JBNQA and Section 7 of the NEQA, Canada was obliged to recommend to Parliament special legislation relating to local government for the Crees on the lands held by Canada for the use of the Cree and Naskapi bands. The Act was tabled before Parliament and was unanimously passed in 1984.

The Act was the first Indian self-government legislation in Canada. In principle, it replaced the Indian Act for the Cree and Naskapi bands.

The Act provides for the incorporation of local governments entirely controlled by the Crees with important local powers over Category IA lands, the federally controlled lands set up under the JBNQA. Local powers include the power to regulate health and hygiene, public order and safety, the protection of the environment including natural resources, the prevention of pollution, and taxation for local purposes.

Within their areas of powers and authorities, Cree local governments act autonomously, although their decisions may be challenged before a court of law.

>> PDF copy of the Act.