Eastmain Dam renamed in honour of Quebec's 28th premier, Bernard Landry

The late Bernard Landry, Parti Québécois leader from 2001 to 2005 and the premier from 2001 to 2003, is described as a "great friend" to the Quebec Cree Nation. 

Parti Québécois stalwart, premier from 2001 to 2003, described as 'great friend' to Quebec Cree Nation

Former premier Bernard Landry and former grand chief of the Grand Council of the Crees, Ted Moses, shake hands in 2002 after signing the Paix des Braves, an agreement that marked a turning point in relations between Quebec and the Cree Nation. (Jacques Boissinot/Radio-Canada)

The massive Eastmain-1 hydroelectric dam and generating station in the James Bay territory of northern Quebec is being renamed in honour of Quebec's 28th premier, the late Bernard Landry, described by the Grand Council of the Crees as a "great friend" to the Quebec Cree Nation. 

The name change of the Eastmain-1 Dam and the Eastmain-1-A generating station was announced by Premier François Legault at a ceremony Monday in Montreal.

"I think it's very appropriate to name them after Bernard Landry," said Ted Moses, grand chief of the Cree Nation at the time of the negotiation and signing of the Paix des Braves agreement in 2002. 

"He was the first premier in Quebec to really establish a relationship with the Cree and both Quebec and the Cree are still benefiting from that agreement," said Moses.

Legault also announced the Eastmain-1 reservoir will be renamed the Reservoir de la Paix des Braves. 

The signing of the Paix des Braves economic agreement between the province and the Cree ended years of legal conflict. That agreement included a $ 4.5 billion payout over 50 years to the Cree Nation, as well as granting the First Nation greater autonomy and a greater say in the economic development of the territory. 

The Eastmain-1 hydroelectric project in the James Bay territory of northern Quebec is being renamed in honour of former premier Bernard Landry, described by the Grand Council of the Crees as a 'great friend' to the Quebec Cree Nation.  (Jacques Boissinot/Presse Canadienne)

Moses was on hand for the ceremony Monday at Hydro-Québec's head office in Montreal, as was Abel Bosum, the current grand chief.

"Bernard Landry was greatly admired by the Cree Nation for his courage, compassion and his vision," said Bosum, who was also chief negotiator for the grand council in the talks that led to the Paix des Braves agreement in 2002.

The Eastmain project was not without controversy.

Landry led the Parti Québécois government from 2001 to 2003.

"In 2002, Prime Minister Landry had a vision and made a commitment to the Cree Nation so that we could assume the roles and responsibilities of the government in a concrete way," said Bosum, adding that the agreement created a real "nation to nation" relationship. 

Landry died on November 6, 2018, at the age of 81. A park in Laval, north of Montreal, was named after him in May of this year, but the province has held off announcing how his legacy would be remembered until the anniversary of his passing. 

At the ceremony Monday, Legault, who served as education minister and later as minister of health and social services under Landry while still a PQ MNA, said Landry inspires him to this day.

"[He] remains an inspiration for me in all the decisions that I will take over the next few years," said Legault.

He said Landry's legacy is important to the entire province. 

Bernard Landry's widow, Chantal Renaud-Landry, was at the announcement with her children. (Ivanoh Demers)

"I think he will stay in our memory forever." 

This is not the first time Hydro-Québec has immortalized a former premier. 

In 1996, the La Grande (LG-2) complex was renamed the Robert-Bourassa Generating Station to honour the former Liberal premier, who was responsible for the initial hydroelectric development in the 1970s that led to the signing of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement.

Three other hydroelectric installations on Quebec's North Shore are named after former premiers Jean-Lesage (Manic-2), René-Lévesque (Manic-3) and Daniel-Johnson (Manic- 5).

With files from Kate McKenna and Radio-Canada


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