The Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) and the Cree Nation Government (GCC(EI)/CNG) are pleased with the initiative of the Québec government, and particularly the Minister of Justice, to have legal effects of customary adoptions clearly reflected in the Civil Code of Quebec through Bill 113 ("An Act to amend the Civil Code and other legislative provisions as regards adoption and the disclosure of information") (Bill 113), tabled in the National Assembly on October 6, 2016.
The Cree Nation welcomes the presentation of this legislation in the National Assembly. This Bill follows the tabling of similar legislation in 2012 and in 2013, both of which "died on the order paper" with the calling of the provincial elections.
For the Cree of Eeyou Istchee, customary adoption has been practiced for generations and continues to be practiced today. It remains an integral part of Cree culture and identity.
As stated by Dr. Matthew Coon Come, Grand Chief of the GCC(EI) and Chairman of the CNG, the Cree have sought changes to provincial legislation regarding customary adoption since the early 1980s and for almost as long, Québec has committed to doing so in the Civil Code of Québec.
"Now, with this Bill, the Québec government is taking an important step to fulfill that commitment," said Dr. Coon Come.
"The creation of the Working Group on Customary Adoption in Aboriginal communities (Working Group), made up of representatives from Québec, the Inuit and First Nations organizations, including those of the Cree Nation, helped to facilitate important discussions regarding customary adoption. It was also an opportunity to collaboratively consider how its effects could be reflected in the Civil Code of Québec," he said.
The Cree Nation wishes to underline its support for the collaborative approach among the Indigenous stakeholders, the Québec Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Health and Social Services in the development of Bill 113.
"We see Bill 113 as a positive first step in creating a bridge between Indigenous customary adoptions and the provincial adoption regime in order to clarify the legal effects of these adoptions, which have always been recognized in our communities and by our community members," stated the Grand Chief.
"Bill 113 begins to harmonize provincial adoption legislation with Cree Aboriginal and treaty rights in relation to adoption matters and reflects the right of Indigenous Nations and communities to govern affairs regarding their children", continued the Grand Chief.
Ultimately, this legislation will benefit the children and families involved in customary adoptions by helping to facilitate the exercise of parental authorities and responsibilities.
In the words of the Grand Chief, "it is a continuation of the on-going development of the Nation-to-Nation relationship between the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee and Québec. This Bill represents another positive and important step forward in the relationship between Quebec and Indigenous peoples, including the Cree Nation."
About the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee):The Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) is the political body that represents the approximately 18,000 Crees of Quebec or "Eeyouch" ("Eenouch" – inland dialect). The Council is constituted of twenty (20) members including: a Grand Chief and Deputy-Grand Chief elected at large by the Eeyouch, the chiefs elected by each of the nine (9) recognized Cree communities, and one (1) other representative elected by each community.
About the Cree Nation Government:The Cree Nation Government (CNG), previously the Cree Regional Authority, was set up by virtue of the signing of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement as the administrative arm of the Cree Nation. It has responsibilities in respect to environmental protection, the hunting, fishing and trapping regime, economic and community development, Cree governance and other matters as decided by the Board of Directors. The Board of Directors of the CNG is the same joint governing body that manages the GCC(EI) and is referred to as "Council/Board".
For further information: Ms. Melissa Saganash, Director of Quebec Relations, Tel.: (418) 691-1111