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Senate committee to study self-determination legislation for northern Quebec First Nations

Bill C-70, the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee Governance Agreement Act, arrived in the Senate on February 26, 2018.

Legislation that would provide more self-determination for two northern Quebec First Nations was adopted at second reading and referred the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples for consideration on Thursday.

The proposed law would modernize the governance models for the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee and the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach.

Bill C-70 would enact a Cree Constitution and a historic governance agreement, signed on July 18, 2017, between the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee and the Government of Canada.

The agreement recognizes new law-making powers for the Cree Nation on a variety of local governance issues. Laws would reflect Cree culture, priorities and aspirations.

The legislation also gives greater authority to the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach, by facilitating political and administrative decisions and processes.

It’s a step on the journey toward reconciliation.

Bill C-70 represents a specific realization of the Government commitment to renew a nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous peoples founded on the recognition of rights, respect, collaboration and partnership.

The Cree are a signatory to the 1975 James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, the first modern treaty in Canada. The Naskapi are a signatory to a similar agreement, the 1978 Northeastern Quebec Agreement.

Cree and Naskapi local governance is currently exercised under the 1984 Cree-Naskapi (of Quebec) Act. The new agreement will remove the Cree from the application of the Cree-Naskapi (of Quebec) Act.

The passage of the bill and enactment of the governance agreement will allow the transfer of $200 million from the Government of Canada to the Cree Nation.

Senate committee to study self-determination legislation for northern Quebec First Nations

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