Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources: Aboriginal issues Settling the uncertainties
“In dealing with natives, Qubec is way ahead of the other provinces,” claims Dr. Jean-Louis Caty, Qubec’s assistant deputy minister of mines. “The latest agreements are very important, because they open up the North completely. Our policy in Qubec is, ‘If you find something you can develop it. We want the country to know we’re open for business.’
Two-thirds of Qubec’s 1.7 million km2 falls under the James Bay Treaty, which was signed by the Cree and the Inuit native nations in 1975, and the Northeastern Qubec Treaty signed by Naskapie first nation in 1979. The land covered by these treaties includes most of the land north of 50* N (the northern boundary of the Abitibi-Tmiskamingue).
In 2002, the Qubec government signed economic and community development agreements that are complementary to the above-mentioned treaties. These new agreements, based on major hydroelectric projects, emphasize partnerships and will facilitate greater access of aboriginal peoples to the economic benefits of natural resource developments.
The agreement signed with the Crees last February, “La Paix des Braves”, includes the creation of a Cree Council on mineral exploration. This Council forms a portion of the mineral exploration assistance program of the Qubec Ministry of Natural Resources and has a $300,000 annual budget. The purpose of this non-profit fund is to promote Cree participation in different mining activities as well as to increase public awareness of mineral exploration in the James Bay region.
Furthermore, in accordance with the “Paix des Braves” agreement, Qubec will pay the Crees $70 million per year, indexed according to the territory’s potential to be developed in the hydroelectric, forestry and mining sectors.
Finally, the Qubec government continues to negotiate with the Innu and Atikamek nations in order to conclude agreements on global land claims. Significant progress has recently been made on these fronts.
The benefit of mines will include jobs and contracts for aboriginal people, and economic prosperity for the regions. Two of the province’s remote northern mines, Raglan and Troilus, already have a workforce that includes at least 25% aboriginal people, the result of earlier agreements.