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How Quebec Cree avoided the fate of Attawapiskat

On the eastern shore of James Bay, a very different story.

 

By Terry Milewski, CBC News Posted: May 14, 2013 9:33 PM ET Last Updated: May 14, 2013 11:07 PM ET Read 119 comments119

 

 

Freezing, mouldy homes. Sewage contamination. Sick kids. Unemployment. A blockade on the road to the mine. A hunger strike by the chief.

 

That, it seems, is the news from the Cree of James Bay — at least, as it's defined by the desperate community of Attawapiskat, in northern Ontario.

 

Before that, there was the news from nearby Kashechewan. Flooding. Despair. Suicide.

 

And both James Bay towns endured fresh emergencies this spring as the annual meltwaters exposed, again, their rickety infrastructure.

 

But bad news makes headlines and good news usually does not. So we've heard all about the mess on the Ontario shore of James Bay — and next to nothing about the success on the eastern shore, in Quebec.

 

Little noticed by the world outside, the Cree of northern Quebec are writing a startlingly different story than their cousins on the western shore of James Bay. Self-government. Revenue-sharing. Decent schools and new development. Mining companies being welcomed instead of blockaded. And no hunger strikes.

 

Schoolchildren in the northern Cree community of Wemindji, Que., enjoy decent schools, in contrast to their Ontario cousins in Attawapiskat, who have been in portables since their school closed more than a decade ago.

 

It's taken 40 years, but a long struggle is paying off. The neat streets of Wemindji or Oujé-Bougoumou feel like they're on a different planet than Attawapiskat. If the stop signs weren't in Cree, you'd think the rows of warm, solid homes were in a suburb down south. Shiny new courthouses, band offices, recreation centres and police stations are being completed. There's no crisis to summon reporters from Toronto or Montreal.

 

So why is it so different on the Quebec side of James Bay?

 

[...]

 

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2013/05/14/pol-james-bay-cree-northern-quebec-attawapiskat.html

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