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Why Is The James Bay Agreement So Unique

(Last Updated On: December 21, 2020)

Over the years, the Government of Canada has signed two “implementation agreements” with the Naskapi and Inuit and an out-of-court agreement with Cree: this foundation has resulted in other important agreements, including the Sanarrutik Partnership Agreement and the Peace of the Braves, two massive economic development agreements that make Inuit partners and created in decision-making and sharing. When the government refused to address the problem and insisted on dam construction, Cree and the IQA partnered with the Northern Quebec Inuit Association (NQIA). In November 1972, they filed a lawsuit to slow down the project and force the province to negotiate. Their main argument was that the land transfer agreements for James Bay and northern Quebec, concluded in 1898 and 1912 respectively, declared a commitment to negotiate the surrender of land rights. The Quebec government, which had little interest in its northern territories before 1960, did not consider it necessary to meet this obligation. In the 1960s, Quebec began developing potential hydroelectric resources in the North and established the James Bay Development Corporation in 1971 to monitor the development of the mining industry, the forestry industry and other potential resources, starting with the James Bay Hydroelectric project. This massive undertaking, led by an increasingly confident Quebec government, without consulting the natives, was rejected by most Cree and Inuit in northern Quebec. The Quebec Association of Indians – a group of ad hoc representatives from Northern Quebec – sued the government and obtained, on November 15, 1973, an injunction before the Quebec Superior Court that blocked the development of hydroelectricity until the province negotiated an agreement with Aboriginal nations. In 2008-2010, INAC provided $2,367,400 to the Avataq Cultural Institute for tuition and educational funding agreements, in particular the Post-Secondary Assistance Program (PSSSP) and the Cultural Centres and Education Centres Program. The JBNQA and NEQA were the first land-use agreements signed in modern times between the governments of Quebec and Canada and the Aborigines. These agreements contain components of self-management and lay the groundwork for a new relationship between the Cree, Inuit, Naskapi and the Government of Canada. The area covered by the JBNQA and THE NEQA covers more than one million square kilometres of land in Quebec, between the 48th and 62nd parallels.

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Nabeel Tirmazi

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