90% referendum approval for Cree-Canada New Relationship Agreement

    NEMASKA, Eeyou Istchee, QC, Oct. 15 /CNW Telbec/ - After a three month
consultation and information period and an intensive two-week referendum
voting period, the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) announces that
90% of the Cree voters approved the new Agreement Concerning a New
Relationship between the Government of Canada and the Cree of Eeyou Istchee.
    The participation rate in the referendum was high with 6,421 Crees
voting, representing more than 59% of all eligible Crees aged 18 or more. This
result largely exceeds the threshold for Cree voter participation and approval
set by Canada and the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee).
    "The Cree voters have expressed their strong approval of the Cree-Canada
New Relationship Agreement with this vote. With this Agreement I believe that
we have a solid basis upon which to increase Cree control of our affairs. In
addition, we have put into place a process for the continued recognition by
Canada and Quebec of the Cree Nation and for the development of Cree Nation
Government by the Crees. We are ready to work with Canada to complete the
process for the implementation of this historic agreement. I thank the Chief
Referendum Officer, Mr. Lawrence Jimiken and his team for their professional
efforts in undertaking this referendum." stated Grand Chief Mukash.
    The Agreement Concerning a New Relationship between the Government of
Canada and the Cree of Eeyou Istchee includes a proposed financial package of
up to $1.4 billion to facilitate the implementation of Canada's obligations
under the 1975 James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA). The new
agreement seeks to resolve disputes and court proceedings related to the
implementation of the JBNQA by Canada and secures agreement between Canada and
the Crees on the manner for implementing certain of Canada's JBNQA obligations
for the next 20 years.
    Following the signature of the Agreement, which is expected to take place
shortly in the next months, the Crees of Quebec would assume federal
responsibilities in various areas including notably in regard to justice
matters and in regard to economic and social development.
    The ratification of the agreement now also allows the Grand Council of
the Crees (Eeyou Istchee), the Government of Canada to enter into a second
phase of negotiations to address the modernization of the Crees' governance
regime. The Government of Quebec will be involved in these discussions.
    A 15 day waiting period is now in force to allow for any contestation of
the vote, to be filed to the Chief Referendum Officer, in accordance with the
"Rules Respecting the Referendum for Approving the Agreement Concerning a New
Relationship between the Government of Canada and the Crees of Eeyou Istchee".
This and the report of the Chief Referendum Officer are available on the web
site of the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) at www.gcc.ca

For further information:

For further information: Bill Namagoose, Executive Director and Chief
Cree Negotiator, (613) 761-1655, (613) 725-7024, billnama@gcc.ca; Ashley
Iserhoff, Deputy Grand Chief, (514) 861-5837; Grand Chief Matthew Mukash,
(514) 861-5837

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