Hope on the other side of James Bay: why one Cree elder sees an opportunity in Attawapiskat
The Ontario Cree of community of Attawapiskat declared a state of emergency this month after 11 people tried to commit suicide in a single night.
But where many see a hopeless crisis, Rodney Mark sees an opportunity.
To me it's a real opportunity to invest in northern development.- Rodney Mark
Mark, the Deputy Grand Chief of the Grand Council of Crees in Quebec, says on his side of James Bay, Cree people are thriving.
It's due largely, Mark says, to the James Bay Northern Quebec Agreement, which empowered people to participate in resource development and simultaneously maintain a Cree lifestyle.
Mark says the change won't happen quickly and will also need look at fundamental economic drivers like resources.
They need resources and they need to be given the autonomy to exercise a planning process of their communities and really try to integrate their identity into all these things- Rodney Mark
But he also says it won't be a fast process.
We see these things happening and we want to fix it right away. And all these things have percolated for a couple of generations and I think we need to sit down and say how can we put down the seeds so something good comes out of it?- Rodney Mark