Reading James Bay

Tuesday evenings, 6:30-8:00 pm, February 12 – March 12, 2019

MAI (Montréal, Arts Interculturels) – 3680 Jeanne Mance

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In April 1971, the recently elected Liberal Premier, Robert Bourassa announced plans to dam the rivers and mine the resources of northern Quebec (a.k.a. “Nouveau Québec”). Without consulting or obtaining consent from the Inuit and Cree nations that had lived there for centuries, Bourassa created the James Bay Development Corporation and mandated it to “develop” the region. Affected by the work that was already underway, Cree and Inuit communities combined forces to bring a case to Quebec’s Superior court in Montreal (1972), seeking an injunction to stop the development and compel a recognition of their still unceded Aboriginal title to lands that, nevertheless, had been transferred to Canada in 1870, by the Hudson’s Bay Company, and to the province of Quebec in two parcels in 1898 and 1912.

Although it would be overturned after only five days of deliberation at the Quebec court of Appeals (1974), Justice Albert Malouf’s decision to grant the injunction and order the government off Cree and Inuit lands compelled – for the first time in 300 years – the negotiation of a treaty relationship that has continued to evolve since the very rushed and still controversial signing of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (1975).

Join us for the third session of “Readings for Treaty People,” a public education project designed for settlers but open always to anyone. This session will focus on the relationship between court decisions and the first example of modern treaty making in Canada, which is not unlike the relationship between the Supreme Court of Canada’s Calder decision (1973) and the Nisga’a treaty (2000), or the Delgamuukw decision (1997) and the ongoing conflict around the attempt to run the TMPL through traditional Wet’suwet’en territories.

Participants will be asked to come to the sessions prepared to discuss reading materials that will frame our understanding of this crucial and narrowly understood moment in modern Quebec history. Reading materials will include court decisions, treaty documents, as well as personal and historical narratives drawn, in part, from Boyce Richardson’s Strangers Devour the Land, and Zebedee Nungak’s Wrestling with Colonialism on Steroids.

There will be roughly 30 pages of reading assigned per week, allowing participants to prepare to engage in productive and focused discussions and interrogations. Participation fees (on a sliding scale between 25-50$) will help pay for visiting speakers and dissemination. We can accommodate a maximum of 25 participants. Childcare services may be available upon request.