The Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee notes with concern the adoption by the National Assembly of Quebec of Bill 96, An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Québec.
There is much concern raised on how it may adversely affect the rights or compromise the development of the Cree Nation. In its current form, however, Bill 96 appears to take little account of the Cree context and reality in Eeyou Istchee. It also appears to take little account of Cree treaty rights under the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBQNA) or of Cree aboriginal rights, both inside or outside the JBNQA Territory.
As drafted, Bill 96 is likely to adversely affect Cree rights and the social, cultural, economic and political development of the Cree Nation. Of particular concern are the effects foreseen on Cree rights in relation to access to English-language colleges, health and social services and justice services.
Grand Chief Mandy Gull-Masty stated, “We have shared some of our concerns with the Government of Quebec and indicated our willingness to work with it to find solutions. We continue to remain open to dialogue. One solution will be to enhance the use of the Cree language, which is central to the identity of the Cree Nation. At the dawn of the International Decade of Indigenous Languages, it is only fitting to reiterate that our Cree language requires active protection, revitalization and promotion.”
In line with other Indigenous nations within the province subject to disadvantageous consequences, the Cree Nation has been and will continue to closely monitor and assess the potential impacts of the current bill on the rights of our members.
Flora Weistche, Political Attachée (514) 604-3276