The Quebec government and the Cree Nation have come together in a sweeping agreement to economically boost the Eeyou Istchee James Bay Territory.
The partnership, which was announced on Monday in downtown Montreal, means expanding infrastructure in the area over the next 30 years. This includes extending the railway network and the electrification of industrial projects.
Quebec Premier François Legault said the deal, known as the Grand Alliance, shows their shared desire to “build a greener, more prosperous and prouder Quebec.”
“We are working together and we have a super project,” he told reporters. “It’s a win-win for the Cree communities and for the Quebec nation.”
Under the plan, there will also be local training for the labour force and the two sides will share infrastructure in the region.
Aside from economic development, there is also a focus on the environment. Areas on the territory will be identified for environmental protection.
Abel Bosum, the Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Crees, describes the agreement as “just the first stage in an ambitious process to transform the Eeyou Istchee’s infrastructure and economy.”
“Our hope is that we can plan the infrastructure up north so there is stability and predictability,” he said.
Bosum said he believes the project will help uplift the region, while also protecting the environment and wildlife.
It will also also help keep Crees in the area and help them start their lives, according to Bosum.
The deal comes after a consultative process with Cree communities.
“This vision comes from us,” said Bosum.
The cost of the project is not yet known, but the rail extension alone has an estimated price tag of $4.6 billion. The development of the railway could also be beneficial for projects involving lithium, according to Legault.
— With files from the Canadian Press