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Successful historic agreement: Raymond Chrétien and Anne Drost speak before the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples

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March 12, 2008

Raymond Chrétien and Anne Drost had the great honour to address the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples on the subject of implementation of comprehensive land claims. This invitation came following their outstanding performance in reaching an historic agreement with the Crees of James Bay.

Raymond Chrétien and Anne Drost successfully negotiated an agreement between the Crees and the Federal Government of Canada which puts an end to 30 years of disputes relating to the implementation of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement ("JBNQA") and resolves long-standing litigation in which the Crees claimed over $4 billion from the Government of Canada. The Agreement also establishes a framework for a second phase of negotiations on Cree Nation Governance, which will involve Canada, the Crees of James Bay, and Québec. With a settlement of $1.4 billion to the Crees, this is one of the largest settlements to a single aboriginal group in the history of Canada. The Crees will have the tools and resources to improve implementation of the JBNQA.

It took almost three and a half years to negotiate the agreement, which may appear to be a long period of time; however, given the average time (approximately 10 years) and success rate in negotiations between First Nations and Canada, Raymond Chrétien and Anne Drost assisted in reaching this agreement in record speed.

The New Relationship Agreement was signed by the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, the Honourable Chuck Strahl, and Grand Chief Matthew Mukash on February 21, 2008 in Mistissini, Québec. This Agreement may serve as a model for other negotiations.

The Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples is conducting a comprehensive study on specific claims, with a view to making recommendations to the Federal Government in order to bring about the timely and satisfactory resolution of First Nations' historical grievances regarding the administration of lands, monies, and other affairs under the Indian Act and treaties.

The Senate Committee was interested in the lessons to be drawn from the Cree – Federal Government negotiations, and in particular, how to improve communications among government departments and politicians, and how to effectively bring negotiations to successful conclusion.

Click here to view photos of this event.