Grand Council of the Crees

Grand Council of the Crees (GCCEI)
Eeyou Istchee ᐄᔨᔨᐤ ᐊᔅᒌ
Country CAN
Province Quebec
NationEeyou Istchee
HeadNemaska (ᓀᒥᔅᑳᐤ)
Grand Council
Grand ChiefAbel Bosum
Deputy Grand ChiefMandy Gull


The Grand Council was formed in 1974 in response to the James Bay Cree hydroelectric conflict, which had already been underway since 1971. When the James Bay Project was first announced, Eeyou Istchee was still governed by a traditional political structure. That political structure was organized to exploit the resources of Eeyou Istchee by their traditional way of life. The land of Eeyou Istchee was divided into smaller territories, each headed by a leader or "ucimâu", that were resource management units and a means of distributing the Eeyou people over a vast territory. So the Crees organized themselves at a council of Cree leaders to represent their rights at the negotiations between the Cree Nation and the Quebec and Canadian governments, which led to the signing of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement in November 1975.

On July 24, 2012, the Quebec government signed an accord with the Eeyou Nation that would result in the abolition of the municipality of Baie-James and the creation of a new regional government Eeyou Istchee/Baie-James Territory.[1]

Cree Nation Government

The Cree Nation Government (Gouvernement de la nation crie, ᐄᓅᑎᐯᔨᐦᒋᒉᓲ, ᐄᔨᔫᑎᐯᔨᐦᒋᒉᓲ) formed in 1978 under the name Cree Regional Authority (CRA) and serves as the administrative authority of the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee and provides programs and services to its communities. The CRA is responsible for environmental protection and is also the legal body representing the nation to provincial and federal administrations.

While the CNG is a separate legal entity from the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee), they have identical membership, board of directors, governing structures and are de facto managed and operated as one organization by the Cree Nation.[2]

An accord signed between the Cree Nation and the Quebec government on July 24, 2012, called for the status and name of the Cree Regional Authority to be changed to the Cree Nation Government.[3] The Cree Nation Government currently has 309 employees.

Eeyou Eenou Police Force

Founded in 2011, the Eeyou Eenou Police Force (EEPF) operates under the administration of the Cree Nation Government and covers the entirety of the Eeyou Istchee territory[4]. It has regional detachments in nine of the Cree Communities in Quebec with the Headquarters being in Chisasibi.[5]

Political developments

The Grand Council of the Crees has been active in asserting the right of the Cree Nation to determine their own future, in the event that Quebec secedes from Canada. In October 1995, the Grand Council issued a "Message regarding the rights of the Crees and other Aboriginal Peoples of Canada", which stated, in part:

Now in 1995, although we live in a modern and democratic state, protected by the Canadian Constitution with its Charter of Rights and Freedoms, our people and our territory may once again be transferred from sovereign to sovereign, this time from Canada to what may become the newly independent state of Québec. And although there is now a United Nations, with a Universal Declaration of Human Rights and a vast array of international human rights instruments that should protect us, a process has been set in motion that would forcibly remove the Crees from Canada, and incorporate us and our lands in this new state.


A few days prior to the October 30, 1995, province-wide referendum on secession from Canada, the Grand Council facilitated a referendum within Eeyou Istchee on the question of whether the Crees should be authorized to separate from an independent Quebec, in order to remain part of Canada. Over 96% of participating voters chose to remain in Canada.[7]

Grand Chief Matthew Mukash is considered a traditionalist and fought against the Great Whale hydroelectric project in the 1990s, alongside the Grand Chiefs Matthew Coon Come and Billy Diamond. In 2002, he opposed the signing of the Paix des Braves, a comprehensive 50 year political and economic agreement with the Government of Quebec, and as well as the 2002 and 2004 agreements with Hydro-Québec on the joint development of the hydroelectric resources of the Rupert River.

Elected in late 2005 as Grand Chief, in replacement of Ted Moses, Matthew Mukash is opposed to the Rupert River Diversion which is undergoing joint Quebec-Cree environmental assessment since 2004. Mukash has advocated with the Government of Quebec and Hydro-Québec to pursue wind power as an alternative source of economic development and energy. His other main political goals are to prepare a constitution, build sovereignty, encourage nation-building, and move Cree leadership back to Eeyou Istchee from Montréal and Ottawa.

Grand Chiefs

Eeyou communities of the Grand Council


  1. Lia Lévesque (24 July 2012). "Québec et les Cris signent une entente pour un gouvernement régional". La Presse. La Presse Canadienne. Retrieved 2012-07-24.
  2. "About the Grand Council of the Crees". The Grand Council of the Crees. Retrieved July 26, 2018.
  3. Agreement on Governance in the Eeyou Istchee James Bay Territory Between the Crees of Eeyou Istchee and the Gouvernement du Québec (PDF). 2012. p. 12. Retrieved July 26, 2018.
  4. “EEYOU EENOU POLICE OFFICERS' ASSOCIATION HAVE SIGNED A COLLECTIVE AGREEMENT.” Federation des Policers et Policieres Municipaux du Quebec. August 21, 2019.
  5. Bergeron, David. “Public Inquiry Commission on relations between Indigenous People and certain services in Quebec: listening, reconciliation and progress” Commision d’enquete sur les relations entre les Autochtones et certains services public Quebec. Cree Nation Government. Grand Council of the Crees. June 11, 2018
  6. Matthew Coon Come, "A Message regarding the rights of the Crees and other Aboriginal Peoples in Canada", in Grand Council of the Crees, Sovereign Injustice: Forcible Inclusion of the James Bay Crees and Cree Territory into a Sovereign Quebec. Nemaska, Quebec, 1995.
  7. Source: Grand Council of the Crees, Never Without Consent: James Bay Crees' Stand Against Forcible Inclusion into an Independent Quebec. Toronto: ECW Press, 1998, p. 10.
  8. "Billy Diamond". Power To Change. Archived from the original on 2008-01-27. Retrieved 2008-02-03. I became chief of our Cree community when I was 31. ... Four years later I became the first Grand Chief of the Cree Grand Council. I used this position to help my people develop. We modernized the villages, built housing and schools and encouraged health and economic development. I was very successful in this position. But like all successes, it had it's (sic) drawbacks, especially in my personal life.

Further reading

  • Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay, and Statistics Canada. Eeyou Istchee Aboriginal Peoples Survey 2001 A Report Prepared by the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay from Responses Given by 906 Eeyouch to Statistics Canada in the Spring of 2001. Chisasibi, Québec: Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay, 2004. ISBN 2-550-43043-3
  • Dewailly E., C. Blanchet, S. Gingras, S. Lemieux, and B. J. Holub. 2002. "Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors and N-3 Fatty Acid Status in the Adult Population of James Bay Cree". The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 76, no. 1: 85–92.
  • Gnarowski, Michael. I Dream of Yesterday and Tomorrow A Celebration of the James Bay Crees. Kemptville, Ont: Golden Dog Press, 2002. ISBN 1-894908-00-7
  • Minde R., and K Minde. 1995. "Socio-Cultural Determinants of Psychiatric Symptomatology in James Bay Cree Children and Adolescents". Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. Revue Canadienne De Psychiatrie. 40, no. 6: 304–312.
  • Morantz, Toby Elaine. An ethnohistoric study of eastern James Bay Cree social organization, 1700–1850. Ottawa: National Museums of Canada, 1983.
  • Niezen, Ronald. Defending the Land Sovereignty and Forest Life in James Bay Cree Society. Cultural Survival studies in ethnicity and change. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1998. ISBN 0-205-27580-X
  • Richardson, Boyce. Strangers Devour the Land A Chronicle of the Assault Upon the Last Coherent Hunting Culture in North America, the Cree Indians of Northern Quebec, and Their Vast Primeval Homelands. New York: Knopf :distributed by Random House, 1976. ISBN 0-394-49838-0
  • Salisbury, Richard Frank. A Homeland for the Cree Regional Development in James Bay, 1971–1981. Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1986. ISBN 0-7735-0550-4
  • Scott, Simeon, and C. D. Ellis. Âtalôhkâna Nêsta Tipâcimôwina = Cree Legends and Narratives : from the West Coast of James Bay. Publications of the Algonquian Text Society. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1995. ISBN 0-88755-159-9
  • Siy, Alexandra. The Eeyou People of Eastern James Bay. New York: Dillon Press, 1993. ISBN 0-87518-549-5
  • Willows N. D., J. Morel, and K. Gray-Donald. 2000. "Prevalence of Anemia Among James Bay Cree Infants of Northern Quebec". CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association Journal = Journal De L'Association Medicale Canadienne. 162, no. 3: 323–326.
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