The James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement

In the early 1970s, a dispute arose between the Gouvernement du Québec and the Crees and Inuit of Northern Québec in relation to the James Bay Hydroelectric Project. This disagreement led the parties to undertake negotiations to organize the development of the territory and to plan resource use, while enabling the Gouvernement du Québec to fulfill its obligations to the Crees and Inuit.

These negotiations led to the signature on November 11, 1975, of the JBNQA by the Gouvernement du Québec, the Government of Canada, the Crees of Eeyou Istchee and the Inuit of Nunavik. This was an agreement without precedent in the history of relations between a State and Aboriginal peoples, both in Canada and in North America.

The JBNQA makes it possible:

  • to recognize the rights of the Cree Nation concerning the ownership and management of certain lands, as well as exclusive hunting, fishing, and trapping rights on part of the territory subject to the JBNQA;
  • to pave the way to self-government through the creation of various public bodies managed by the Cree Nation, particularly in the areas of local and regional government, health and social services, education, and income security;
  • to strengthen institutional relations between the Crees and the Gouvernement du Québec; and
  • to organize a territory with an area of approximately one million square kilometres, extending roughly from the 48th to the 62nd parallel.

Land Regime (Cree)

The JBNQA establishes three categories of lands in James Bay and Northern Québec. This new land regime seeks to meet the needs of the Crees and of Québec.