Cree Trappers’ Association celebrates 40 years of Cree culture

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The Cree Trappers’ Association celebrated its 40th anniversary at its general assembly in Mistissini by honouring past leaders who helped the CTA preserve traditional Cree culture during the past four decades since the signing of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement in 1975.

While the JBNQA signalled a substantial change in Cree life, the CTA is helping Crees maintain traditions, said Allan House, Secretary-Treasurer of the CTA.

The CTA provides income-security programs for trappers while providing “green fur” through the humane harvesting and preservation of fur-bearing animals.

“It is about the human connection to the planet,” said Paul Dixon, a tallyman with the CTA who underlined the role of duty in connection to earth. “There is no word for ‘rights’ in the Cree language but it is only the Aboriginals who believe that man belongs to the earth. The White Man says the earth belongs to him.”

Among the highlights of the General Assembly was a Chisasibi resolution on waterfowl habitats. It gave a mandate to the CTA executive committee to participate in a scientific third-party investigation of negative impacts affecting eelgrass beds. Similarly, the CTA will monitor disease among fur-bearing animals.

These diseases are bringing health risks to trappers, including zoonosis, contracted from moose. A zoonosis, as defined by the World Health Organization, is any disease transmitted by vertebrate animals to humans, whether parasitic, bacterial, viral or through “unconventional agents”. Heightened mercury levels in fish and waterways are contaminating meat, House explained, while poor drinking water quality remained an outstanding issue.

Dixon again referred to the perception of man’s identity with the land. “When Columbus turned up 500 years ago, he didn’t bring a piece of land with him. But he did bring a shovel. You have to be careful what you do with that shovel,” he said.

The CTA general assembly also addressed issues of air quality, notably carbon monoxide and mould in cabins.

However, the lasting highlight of the general assembly was the applause given to President Fred Tomatuk’s plan to roll out a one-year trapping course.

Eeyou Eenou Ituun, delivered in Cree, will be accredited by Cégep de Saint-Felicien. “The assembly adopted the resolution. The Cree Nation Government had a delegation there including Grand Chief Abel Bosum and we were all applauding the initiative,” concluded House.

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