Press release following the passing of former Chief Abel Kitchen, one of the negotiators and signatories to the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement. The Cree Nation Government sadly announced his passing on February 2, 2018.
NEMASKA, Eeyou Istchee (February 2, 2018) – There are many things that can be said of the Cree leaders who, in the 1970’s when they heard about the James Bay Hydroelectric Project, came together and decided to resist. They were courageous, they were fearless, they were wise beyond their years, and they were determined. They were also deeply grounded in our Cree culture and values.
As one of the negotiators and signatories to our Treaty—the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement—Abel Kitchen embodied all these virtues. The Cree Nation Government sadly announces his passing on Friday morning, February 2, 2018.
After the conclusion of the negotiations of the JBNQA, Abel took on the important role of Chairman of the Cree Regional Authority—the central administrative body of the Cree Nation. The Cree Nation owes an enormous debt of gratitude to Abel Kitchen for setting the CRA on a course which was highly regarded and professionally administered. Because of the foundation which Abel laid for the CRA, it was eventually transformed into the Cree Nation Government.
After serving the Cree Regional Authority, Abel served his home community of Waswanipi for several years as their Chief. He also took on an important leadership role for several years with the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay as its Executive Director.
Abel understood that leadership takes many different forms and requires many different skills and focuses. After decades of successful administrative leadership, he made the decision to devote his energies to preserving the cultural practices and traditions of our people, and to mentor our young people in that endeavour. He returned to the land where he came from and would periodically emerge to offer wisdom and guidance to all those whom he encountered.
Abel Kitchen was always a great Cree leader and he will always be remembered so. The entire Cree Nation joins Abel’s family and the community of Waswanipi in mourning his passing.