Québec City, November 10, 2020 – Québec Premier François Legault today highlighted the 45th anniversary of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement concluded on November 11, 1975 between the Québec government, the Cree, the Inuit, the Government of Canada, and three government corporations, including Hydro-Québec. Given the event’s significance, on Tuesday Premier Legault tabled a motion in the National Assembly.
To mark the occasion, the James Bay Road will be renamed in honour of Grand Chief Billy Diamond, one of the agreement’s architects and signatories. The gesture will immortalize this great individual’s inestimable contribution to the unification of the Cree Nation. The road links most of the Cree communities and runs from Matagami to Radisson and crosses communications links that lead to Waskaganish, Nemaska, Eastmain, Wemindji and Chisasibi.
The development of relations between Québec and the Aboriginal peoples, which the Agreement underpins, reflects a reconciliation process through dialogue, partnership, cooperation, and mutual nation-to-nation respect. The Agreement has paved the way for the conclusion of significant agreements that have consolidated existing partnerships, in particular the Peace of the Braves.
“History has vindicated Billy Diamond and Robert Bourassa, the signatories to the Agreement. Grand Chief Billy Diamond boldly built a win-win, long-term partnership. To pay tribute to this visionary and highlight his leadership, I am pleased that the James Bay Road is being renamed in his honour. In the same spirit, the partnership and collaboration contemplated continue to inspire us in the relations that we are also maintaining with the Inuit and Naskapi Nations.”
François Legault, Premier of Québec
“The James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement is an example of a successful partnership with the First Nations and Inuit. The signatories to the Agreement have indicated the path to follow and we must now build on this precious heritage.”
Ian Lafrenière, Minister Responsible for Indigenous Affairs
The James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement
The James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement is widely regarded as the first modern treaty in Canada. It has facilitated the reconciliation of the protection of the traditional way of life of the signatory nations and natural resource development in the territory. Through it, the signatory parties agreed to build the La Grande hydroelectric development on La Grande Rivière. It also paved the way for the conclusion on January 31, 1978 of the Northeastern Quebec Agreement with the Naskapi Nation.
The Agreement is continuously changing and has been subject to date to 26 Supplementary Conventions in force. What is more, it has facilitated the conclusion of other significant agreements between the Québec government and the Cree and Inuit Nations.