Crees drop court case against Ottawa
IQALUIT — The James Bay Crees have dropped their court case to prevent the federal government from transferring islands in James Bay and Hudson Bay to Nunavut.
But the Grand Council of the Crees has not given up its claim to the islands, Brian Craik, director of federal relations for the First Nations group said this week.
The Crees will continue to seek a negotiated settlement for the claim.
“We didn’t want one that was rammed down our throats,” Craik said.
In March the Grand Council of the Crees asked the Federal Court of Canada to intervene because they maintained that the transfer of these islands to Nunavut would put their traditional use of these lands in jeopardy.
Cree and Nunavut representatives recently met to discuss the dispute and to prepare for a future meeting between Grand Council Chief Matthew Coon-Come and Nunavut premier Paul Okalik.
But Ted Moses, chief negotiator for the Crees, said that Crees won’t negotiate their offshore claim directly with Nunavut.
Nunavut may be administering the islands, he said, but Crees haven’t given up their aboriginal title, so Canada still has the sole responsibility to settle their outstanding claim.
“If Nunavut wants to be at the table, they can be part of the Canadian team,” said Moses.
Talks between the Crees and the federal government resumed this week in Ottawa. The chief federal negotiator, Nigel Wilford, said the meeting was productive and that more talks are scheduled for the end of the month.