Sunday, October 21, 2012


Over two decades providing communications support to the James Bay Crees of Eeyou Istchee has resulted in many great experiences. gordongroup has been witness to their formidable emergence as a powerful nation.
In July of 2012 the James Bay Crees established a new agreement forming the first of its kind Regional Government within partnership with the province of Quebec, Canada. The journey continues, upon reflection I have offered the following about the James Bay Crees and what I’ve discovered about their approach.

Striving for leadership presents a challenge for an individual, organization or a nation. Defining the hallmarks of what makes for great leadership is useful when engaging in branding, or marketing. The James Bay Crees of Eeyou Istchee have been trailblazers in their efforts to preserve their traditions, culture and way of life. 

By their example many lessons can be learned.

Leadership, as a management construct can be defined in many ways depending on the act or methodology and how this impacts on others. Leadership is often characterized based on the degree of followers the leading individual, organization or entity attracts. Leadership is judged based on records being established or the degree to which obstacles are overcome. Leadership may also be defined through invention, someone who discovers a cure, a planet or invents a new technology all these examples define leadership. Many different categories can be ascribed to leadership, including areas such as sport, vocations, military might or activities like knitting or carving. The principle characteristic of leadership is an act performed by an individual that defines a transformational outcome however large or small.

The James Bay Crees have been described as trailblazers. Over the last four decades many examples of Leadership are evident, from the time before signing the first modern day treaty in Canada to the most recent example in Quebec, the Regional Government Agreement. The Cree model of leadership has established for the first time in Canada a relationship between provincial, municipal governing entities in relationship to the Crees of Eeyou Istchee and their societies jurisdiction over vast territories of land.

An example of Aboriginal leadership and a component of Canadian history which provides context to the countries identity relating to indigenous relations includes the time during the late 1960’s when the “White Paper” was introduced by the governments of the day. The policy at the time was intent on assimilation of Canadian Indigenous society within the general population of Canada by extension blending or assimilating the Crees society and other Indigenous groups along with their rich cultural diversities within western civilization, essentially casting away any notion of preservation or acceptance of aboriginal identity. A form of dissolution of culture within a broader mainstream ethos was planned as policy in Canada. Through the proposed assimilation priority the traditional practices, heritage and values that form the mosaic of indigenous society would have been further marginalized or extinguished. The White Paper was opposed and eliminated through massive opposition and overwhelming negative response from Aboriginal Society in Canada and others, not long after this episode in Canadian history the Crees of Eeyou Istchee and Inuit of Nunavik through their leadership defined a new model for Treaty making. Two ancient civilizations within the far reaches of northern Quebec in collaboration with Provincial and Federal Governments forged the First Modern Day Treaty in Canada into existence. This positive milestone within a decade of the archaic thinking attributed to the White Paper. Treaties in Canada remain the normative instrument for striking agreements and by extension, defining the structure of relations between Indigenous people and the national governing administrations. The James Bay Crees since the signing of first modern day treaty have demonstrated four decades of leadership, through their example they’ve introduced a brand of leadership that remains a model for indigenous societies globally.

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