OPINION: To build bridges, not barricades, learn from the Cree Nations of Quebec – by Abel Bosum (Globe and Mail – February 27, 2020)


Abel Bosum is the Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Crees of Northern Quebec and President of the Eeyou Istchee James Bay Regional Government.

If you’ve been watching the news over the past several weeks, you might have the impression that Indigenous rights and the appetite of non-Indigenous society for resources are irreconcilable, that polarization is inevitable, and that Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians are incapable of listening to one another. It doesn’t have to be this way.

The only way to bring down the barricades that separate us is by truly listening to one another. Right now across Canada, when we get word that a barricade is to be going down, even more spring up. The Prime Minister calls for dialogue and patience, and then yields to the lead of premiers. The situation is confusing for anyone trying to find resolve.

For the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee, the situation echoes 2002 – which marked the peak of decades of bitter conflict with Quebec. It was a conflict defined by an unfortunately all-too-common threat posed by large-scale resource development to traditional ways of life, based on hunting, fishing and trapping.

We were forced to turn, time and again, to the courts, and to international organizations, to defend our rights. The conflict became so intense that our relations with Quebec broke down completely.

With no end in sight to the conflict, Quebec premier Bernard Landry and our Grand Chief, Ted Moses, agreed to talk and listen to one another as equals. The result of those discussions was the agreement that has come to be called the Paix des Braves.

For the rest of this column: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-to-build-bridges-not-barricades-learn-from-the-cree-nations-of/