Aboriginal Quality of Life Under a Modern Treaty
The Agreement Concerning a New Relationship Between the Government of The provisions of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA) and relating to sustainable development;; participation, in the form of consultation. AGREEMENT CONCERNING A NEW RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE onward and shall no longer form part of the Assumed Federal JBNQA Responsibilities. Agreement Concerning a New Relationship. /1 . definition of Territory provided in paragraph of the JBNQA for the purposes of Section.
Quebec will consult the Cree Regional Authority in respect to the legislation to be recommended prior to the submission thereof to the National Assembly.
The provisions of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement JBNQA and of existing agreements and existing financial arrangements will continue to apply in the absence of indications to the contrary in the present Agreement. Quebec further confirms that nothing in the present Agreement shall prejudice, detrimentally affect or restrict the rights of the James Bay Crees as set out in paragraphs 2. Forestry The Government of Quebec and the Crees will ensure that the Quebec forestry regime shall apply in the Territory in a manner that allows: The provisions of the present Agreement regarding forestry have, among other things, the objective of establishing an adapted forestry regime which will fix particular rules and procedures applicable to the Territory to meet the goals of improved taking into account of the hunting, fishing and trapping activities of the Crees and improved conciliation of forest activities with such Cree activities.
The Cree traplines will be used as a basis for delimiting the territorial reference units for forestry management. For the next general management plans which will be configured on the basis of the new management units by September 1,the boundaries of the territorial reference units must correspond to the boundaries of one trapline.
The Cree Regional Authority is responsible for specifying the boundaries of Cree traplines within the Territory to a scale of 1: The calculation of the annual allowable cut will be determined on the basis of the new management units which will, in principle, be made of groupings of traplines.
These management units will be determined in technical discussions carried out jointly by the Crees and the MRN. Upon signing the Agreement, a provisional Cree-Quebec Working Team shall be constituted to determine the limits of the new management units. The provisional Cree-Quebec Working Team shall make a proposal concerning the limits on or before March 31, The proposal shall be the subject of public consultations by the MRN.
The results of the consultations shall be examined by the provisional Cree-Quebec Working Team. The new management units shall be determined jointly by the provisional Cree-Quebec Working Team before September 1, The Minister of Natural Resources shall approve the new management units and shall notify the agreement holders in conformity with the Forest Act.
Sites of interest will be identified and mapped by the Crees, in cooperation with the MRN. No forest management activities may be undertaken in these areas unless the tallyman agrees otherwise. Specific management standards and measures will be applied to maintain or improve the habitat of very important wildlife species and portions of each trapline will benefit from specific protection to improve the level of harmonization between forest management activities and Cree traditional activities.
The location of these areas of wildlife interest will be under the direct responsibility of the tallyman, in the spirit of cooperation with other stakeholders on the Territory.
Measures will be taken to ensure the protection of a residual forest cover of each trapline. Certain measures will be taken to ensure the protection of forests adjacent to watercourses and lakes.
They cannot remain frozen in time. Indeed, this was recognized in through the Paix des Braves, which gave the Crees greater authority over economic and social development. Governments should acknowledge that land claim settlements are much more than land transactions — they are living documents that set broad parameters for a decolonizing relationship that is bound to reinvent itself as the conditions and priorities of the Aboriginal signatories change.
Print PDF In its final report, released inthe Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples RCAP documented the consequences of past government policies aimed at redesigning the cultural, political and economic fabric of Aboriginal societies in order to facilitate the integration of Aboriginal people into the dominant society.
Residential schools are a wellknown example of such policies. So are the still extant reserve system and the Indian Act, through which Aboriginal community life came to be almost entirely regulated by federal civil servants.
The consequences of these policies — family and community dislocation, economic dependency and a profound sense of alienation — persist across Canada. If we are to move beyond this colonial legacy, the royal commission argued, we must change our perspective on the very nature of the relationship between Aboriginal peoples and the Canadian state.
Echoing what many analysts and community activists have long argued, the RCAP suggested that the institutional basis of the relationship be redefined and rebalanced to enable Aboriginal peoples to regain a sense of agency and control over their lives, their lands and their dealings with the dominant society.
Have the institutions of governance created under the JBNQA regime provided the Cree and Inuit communities with the conditions, tools and resources to redefine their relationship with the dominant society and improve their quality of life? This study, building on the abundant literature on the JBNQA and some primary research, addresses the key lessons we can learn from the implementation of the first modern treaty and its impact on the quality of life of the Crees and Inuit.
In strict socio-economic terms, their overall quality of life has improved, but the causal link with the JBNQA is difficult to assess.
Various analyses indicate that the changes observed since were already under way before the agreement was signed. Moreover, contrary to popular assumption, despite a significant increase in government transfers for social programs and infrastructure development in the aftermath of the JBNQA, Cree and Inuit communities in northern Quebec are not markedly better off than similar northern Aboriginal communities in Yukon, the Northwest Territories or Nunavut that do not have a treaty or that signed one much more recently.
In addition to the pressure of natural resource extraction on their traditional lands, Cree and Inuit communities were experiencing rapid transformations associated with the transition from a subsistence to a wage-based economy.
In this respect, the governance structures defined by the agreement initially had mixed results; the JBQNA did not radically alter the relationship between the Crees, the Inuit and the Canadian state, nor did it enable the Crees and Inuit to play more than a marginal role in the economic development of the region. In fact, the agreement largely reproduced old models of state-led and state-controlled development in Aboriginal communities.
This study suggests that the problem lies not only with the agreement itself, but also — and perhaps more importantly — with the way it was interpreted and implemented by its federal and provincial government signatories. Building on this expertise and sense of regional unity, the Crees and Inuit are now engaging in a profound redefinition of the JBNQA governance regime, adapting it to their contemporary expectations and realities. Recent agreements with Quebec and Ottawa reflect this new reality.
But, over time, and with proactive leadership and collaboration between all parties involved, CLCAs can become the instruments whereby Aboriginal peoples establish a governance relationship that better reflects their social, economic and political aspirations. Treaty Making and Quality of Life: Some Conceptual Precisions What are modern treaties, and how do they relate to the quality of life of Aboriginal peoples?
The literature tackling the issue is replete with debate over the meaning and usefulness of the concept. But it is generally understood that quality of life involves more than income and standard of living. For example, a healthy body and environment, as well as a supportive community, are increasingly considered integral to a good life.
Inuit share a similar perspective Usher, Duhaime, and Searles Adding to the complexity of the question, the nature of what affects our well-being can also shift over time. While hunting, trapping and fishing are still important, the younger Aboriginal leadership places a greater emphasis on finding a balance between sustaining traditional pursuits and improving access to the wage economy.
This is where treaty making comes into play. Peace and friendship alliances between Aboriginal nations shaped the political and economic map of North America long before the arrival of the Europeans Williams The negotiation of treaties was also central to early relations between Aboriginal peoples and representatives of the French and British Crowns. At the time, treaties were diplomatic instruments designed to establish the parameters of coexistence as well as political and economic alliances between the European powers and Aboriginal nations.
British and Canadian officials continued to use treaties through the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries — by then, however, treaties had become mechanisms for establishing authority for the purposes of colonial expansion.
Aboriginal Quality of Life Under a Modern Treaty
Through the so-called numbered treaties, Aboriginal peoples agreed to European settlement on their traditional territories in most of Ontario and the prairies in exchange for the protection of their traditional lifestyle and some minimal social and economic guarantees Dickason The record of the Canadian state with regard to the numbered treaties is far from exemplary.
Many aspects of the agreements have simply been ignored, especially those related to the protection of reserved lands and the well-being of Aboriginal communities. Often, the written treaties prepared by government officials differed significantly from what was agreed upon during negotiations by Aboriginal peoples with oral, rather than written, legal traditions.
These discrepancies, along with the tendency of the federal and provincial governments to define their treaty obligations restrictively, led to ongoing disputes between government and Aboriginal signatories over the interpretation of the content as well as the general spirit and intent of the treaties. It is thus not surprising that treaties have reemerged as an important means for Aboriginal peoples to assert their political agency, define their place in Canada and gain some control over their well-being.
The Calder decision of the Supreme Court of Canada marked the re-emergence of treaties in contemporary Canada. Twenty-one CLCAs have since been ratified and are in force; a few more are in the final stages of ratification. This obliges federal and provincial legislation and policies to be consistent with their obligations under modern treaties. Provinces and territories also have an interest in clarifying the nature of Aboriginal rights in order to facilitate access to the land for the purposes of economic development.
In exchange for the specific rights defined in the agreement and the negotiated benefits package, the Aboriginal parties had to surrender any title to the land they may have possessed.
The language of more recent agreements has been modified in response to charges — from the United Nations, among others — that such practice is unfair. By contrast, most Aboriginal people see modern treaties in much broader terms — more like the initial treaties with European powers. Modern treaties are not just one-time land-ownership deals. They are constitutive documents that lay the foundations of a renewed and ongoing relationship between mutually consenting and equal partners Tully For most Aboriginal peoples, treaties are, ultimately, a means of decolonization, a way to regain political agency and engage with the state under new terms.
As organic documents establishing the basis for future relationships, they are bound to evolve and grow with changing circumstances. At the same time, as they move through the various phases of their implementation, respect for their original spirit is at least as important as the specific legal obligations they impose Irlbacher-Fox and Mills, forthcoming. These two conceptions of the treaty process are difficult to reconcile, and this explains the mounting frustration of those involved in treaty negotiation and implementation.
Some negotiations have been suspended and resumed again and again over a period of 30 years as negotiators struggle with legal obstacles and unilaterally set government preconditions.
Many have opted instead to use the courts to force governments to recognize their rights in the face of growing development pressures on their traditional lands Alcantara Despite their many limitations, modern treaties are significant documents. Whether we interpret them strictly as compensation for land or more broadly as institutional frameworks for a renewed relationship, agreements like the JBNQA are profoundly transformative.
They establish new obligations and responsibilities for governments as well as mechanisms and rules of governance in a wide array of policy areas. As such, they can have a direct impact on quality of life as well as on the governance of the communities involved. Since no treaty had ever been signed in northern Quebec, Aboriginal peoples claimed that their ancestral rights to the land had to be acknowledged before any development could take place.
Following a historic court decision, which partly confirmed their assertion, Quebec proposed an outof-court settlement. For the Crees, the main objective was to minimize the damage to their environment and ensure the sustainability of their traditional hunting, fishing and trapping activities. The Inuit, however, were not immediately affected by the first phase of the hydroelectric project, and they were divided about joining the negotiation process.
Inuit communities were already discussing political autonomy, and some saw the JBNQA as an opportunity to advance their project. Others believed that trading their Aboriginal rights for limited administrative decentralization, as proposed in the JBNQA negotiations, was an unacceptable course of action Rodon and Grey, forthcoming. In the end, three Inuit communities did not endorse the final version of the agreement, even though they would be fully covered by its dispositions.
Living conditions and economic prospects were also a source of concern for Cree and Inuit leaders.
For Inuit, notably, permanent-settlement life was still relatively new. They were also in transition from a subsistence to a wage-based economy Martin The infrastructure in the communities was deficient, many villages did not have adequate education or health facilities, and basic services were almost nonexistent.
A negotiated settlement would be an opportunity to improve living conditions and gain some control over the direction and pace of change Awashish ; Watt The nature of the treaty rights varies according to a tri-level system of land tenure.
Most of the 1, square kilometres of land covered by the agreement is category II and III lands — public lands available for development, on which the Crees and Inuit retain some hunting, fishing and trapping rights. These lands and their resources remain under Quebec jurisdiction. Category I lands — 8, square kilometres for the Inuit, and 5, square kilometres for the Crees — fall under local Aboriginal authority.
The Cree Income Security Program provides hunters and trappers with a basic income.
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The Inuit Hunting, Fishing and Trapping Support Program funds equipment and transportation for these traditional activities and promotes the sharing of harvest products Kativik Regional Government The protection of traditional activities is also an objective of a series of joint Aboriginal-federalprovincial committees for wildlife management and environmental monitoring on the territory of the agreement. However, these committees have only advisory powers, and their influence on government has been quite limited Craik ; Rodon The Crees chose a mixed structure of Cree-specific governance under federal jurisdiction at the local level, and under Quebec jurisdiction at the regional level.
Inuit, being a clear majority in Nunavik and being unhampered by the institutional legacy of the Indian Act, chose local and regional public governance structures under provincial jurisdiction; most of the regional administrative bodies are funded jointly by the federal and provincial governments.
Similar administrative structures were created in Nunavik. In addition to responsibility for health and education, responsibility for the administration of justice, local policing, housing and municipal services was transferred to Cree and Inuit local and regional bodies.
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It created a unique regime of governance, characterized by a web of administrative structures at the local and regional levels through which Crees and Inuit were expected to run most government programs and services in their communities. Many of the changes it brought — notably, changes in the internal dynamics of Cree and Inuit communities or in the relations of these communities with government authorities — are hard to quantify.
Even when the changes are measurable, it is not always easy to identify a direct causal link with the agreement, as the comparative data presented in this section indicate. Yet we can draw some conclusions about the impact of the JBNQA more than 30 years after its ratification. One very striking change in Cree and Inuit communities has been demographic growth. Today, there are close to 10, Inuit and 14, Crees in northern Quebec table 1. Although this trend has slowed in the past decade, if it continues, then the Cree and Inuit population could double again by This population is also very young: A key test for the JBNQA has been whether it has the capacity to adapt to these pressures and provide Crees and Inuit with the tools to respond to their changing demographic realities.
Existing data suggest that the condition of roads, water supply and public buildings has improved significantly since the early s in northern Quebec.
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In fact, as table 2 suggests, housing conditions in northern Quebec are among the worst in the country and have not improved in the past 10 years.
In Nunavik, the percentage of multiple-family households is the highest in the country, at 19 percent Statistics Canada While it is true that the school boards have given Crees and Inuit a much greater role in running their own education systems and the means to implement culturally relevant and environmentally aware programs, the picture is far from perfect.
The good news is that the Aboriginal language retention rates of Crees and Inuit are among the highest in the country. This may be explained in part by the relative isolation of these communities from major population centres, but, as table 3 indicates, the proportion of Nunavik Inuit who can converse in Inuktitut and who speak the language at home is also significantly greater than the proportion of all Canadian Inuit, who are in a similar geographical position.
The choice to provide early childhood and elementary education in Cree and Inuktitut certainly has a lot to do with the healthy state of Aboriginal languages in JBNQA communities. While Aboriginal language retention rates appear to indicate success, Cree and Inuit administrative control over education has not produced the expected levels and standards of education. The proportion of the Eeyou Istchee and Nunavik populations with a high school diploma or more increased between and — from 25 to 35 percent.
In signing the JBNQA, the Cree and Inuit had as a central objective the protection of their traditional way of life and the environment that supports it. In many ways, the agreement delivered. According to Salisbury, the number of full-time Cree hunters increased by 50 percent between and as a result of the support programs The programs did not stop the decline in traditional activities conducted on a full-time basis, but they certainly helped ease the transition to a wage-based economy.
While traditional activities now are part-time pursuits for the majority of Crees and Inuit, most adults still participate in them. In77 percent of Crees did so, as did 81 percent of Inuit in Nunavik, compared with 70 percent in Nunavut Statistics Canada The decline in full-time traditional activities, combined with demographic pressures, has made job creation and access to the wage economy issues of major concern in Cree and Inuit communities.
Consistent with the trend in most northern Aboriginal communities, wages now account for a much higher proportion of Cree and Inuit income than they once did: Between andfull-time wage employment almost doubled in Nunavik, and the trend has continued Chabot Inunemployment rates in Nunavik A key characteristic of the income structure in Cree and Inuit communities is that a relatively high proportion of overall income is derived from government sources. This high-dependency pattern was already well established by the time the JBNQA was signed, and the agreement has had a mixed impact on it.
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