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Quebec Cree unanimously support renaming James Bay Highway after former grand chief

The Grand Council of the Crees of northern Quebec have passed a resolution at a virtual general assembly in favour of renaming the highway after its former grand chief, Billy Diamond.

The late Grand Chief Billy Diamond was a signatory of the James Bay Northern Quebec agreement in 1975

Indian Affairs Minister Jean Chretien jokes as Billy Diamond, chief of the Cree grand council signs an agreement in principle in Montreal for the continuing construction of the James Bay power project. Nov 14, 1974. (Canadian Press)

The Grand Council of the Crees of northern Quebec have passed a resolution at a virtual general assembly in favour of renaming the James Bay Highway after a former grand chief. 

The Cree will make a request to the provincial government to rename it Billy Diamond, with the permission from the Diamond family. 

"We will commemorate our former leader,'' said Grand Chief Abel Bosum. 

Diamond, the late grand chief, from Waskaganish, was a successful entrepreneur and a prominent leader for the Crees of eastern James Bay. 

Diamond was also one of the main negotiators and a signatory of the James Bay Northern Quebec agreement in 1975. From there he created the airline, AirCreebec, and Cree construction companies. 

The Grand Council of the Crees of northern Quebec passed a resolution at a virtual general assembly in favour of renaming the highway after its former Grand Chief Billy Diamond. (Submitted by Dennis Georgekish)

"This man has contributed a lot, not only for Waskaganish but for all Crees and Indigenous people across Canada," said Waskaganish Chief Clarke Shecapio.

The 620 kilometre road extends north from route 109 from Matagami toward Radisson. The paved road passes through two rivers in James Bay. 

If the province approves the name change, it will be unveiled in November, the month that marks the 45th anniversary of the signing of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement.

Quebec Cree leader Billy Diamond presents a pair of snowshoes to Pope John Paul II on Aug. 8, 1984. (The Canadian Press)

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