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James Bay Cree experience dramatic change

The Story

The Cree and Inuit reap the benefits of the land claims agreement. In their communities, nice homes with satellite dishes replace shacks while new schools and modern healthcare clinics are built. But the traditional way of life declines as the gigantic hydroelectric project floods vast areas of the land. Native residents become concerned about polluted drinking water, flooded trap lines and mercury contamination in fish stocks. Social problems such as alcohol abuse increase in the communities.

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Nov. 11, 1985
Guests: John Ciaccia, Billy Diamond, Albert Diamond, Georges Filotas, Teddy Moses, Harry Tulugak
Host: Knowlton Nash
Reporter: Tom Kennedy
Duration: 4:33

Did You know?

• Stones and soil in the flooded areas of northern Quebec contain naturally occurring mercury that dissolves into the water and enters the food chain. Mercury is a poison that can damage the nervous system and the brain. Almost 15 per cent of the James Bay Cree had above-normal mercury levels in 1988. By 1994, only 2.7 per cent of the population had high mercury levels. The decline was attributed to educational programs in Cree communities.



The James Bay Project and the Cree more