Cree Nation Welcomes Bill 81 on Customary Adoption

NEMASKA, QC, June 15, 2012 /CNW/ - The Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) and the Cree Regional Authority (GCC(EI)/CRA) are pleased with the initiative of the Québec government, and particularly the Minister of Justice, to have legal effects of customary adoptions clearly reflected in the Civil Code of Quebec through Bill 81 ("An Act to amend the Civil Code and other legislative provisions as regards adoption and parental authority"), tabled in the National Assembly on June 13, 2012.

For the Crees of Eeyou Istchee, customary adoption has been practiced for generations and continues to be practiced today. It remains an integral part of Cree culture and identity.

As stated by the Chairman of the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay, Mr. James Bobbish, on behalf of the Cree Nation at the announcement of Bill 81, the Crees have sought changes to provincial legislation regarding customary adoption since the early 1980s and for almost as long, Québec has committed to doing so in the Civil Code of Québec.

"Now, with this Bill, the Québec government is taking an important step to fulfill that commitment," said Mr. Bobbish.

"The creation of the Working Group on Customary Adoption, made up of representatives from Québec, the Inuit and First Nations organizations, helped to facilitate consultations and discussions regarding customary adoption.  It was also an opportunity to collaboratively consider how its effects could be reflected in the Civil Code of Québec," he said.

"We see this Bill as a positive first step in creating a bridge between Aboriginal customary adoption regimes and the provincial adoption regime in order to clarify the legal effects of these adoptions, which have always been recognized in our communities and by our community members, " stated Mr. Bobbish.

"In our view, this Bill begins to harmonize provincial adoption legislation with Cree Aboriginal and treaty rights in relation to adoption matters", he continued.

Ultimately, this legislation will benefit the families involved in customary adoptions by helping to facilitate the exercise of their parental authorities and responsibilities.

As later stated by Dr. Matthew Coon Come, Grand Chief of the GCC(EI) and Chairman of the CRA, "it is a continuation of the on-going development of the Nation-to-Nation relationship between the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee and Québec.  This Bill represents a positive and important step forward in the relationship between Quebec and Aboriginal peoples, including the Cree Nation."

About the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee):

The Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) is the political body that represents the approximately 18,000 Crees of Quebec or "Eeyouch" ("Eenouch" - inland dialect).  The Council is constituted of twenty (20) members including: a Grand Chief and Deputy-Grand Chief elected at large by the Eeyouch, the chiefs elected by each of the nine (9) recognized Cree communities, and one (1) other representative elected by each community.

About the Cree Regional Authority:

The Cree Regional Authority (CRA) was set up by virtue of the signing of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement as the administrative arm of the Cree Nation Government. It has responsibilities in respect to environmental protection, the hunting, fishing and trapping regime, economic and community development, Cree governance and other matters as decided by the Board of Directors. The Board of Directors of the CRA is the same joint governing body that manages the GCC(EI) and is referred to as "Council/Board".

For further information:

Ms. Tina Petawabano
Director of Quebec Relations, Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)
Telephone: (418) 691-1111