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Queen's University

Policy Speaker Series

Building a Cree Nation:
The story of the Cree Nation of Quebec (Eeyou Istchee) as told by Cree Chief Dr. Billy Diamond

January 22, 2010

Billy Diamond Chief Dr. Billy Diamond was propelled to prominence by the controversial hydroelectric developments in northern Quebec.

He organized national and international media attention to spotlight the plight of the Cree and Inuit of the region; went to the United Nations to argue the case; and was the prime Cree mover and signatory of the 1975 James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement. As a result, the Cree people were awarded $136 million in cash and investment infra- structure that has totaled more than $1.4 billion to date.

He grew up watching his father Malcolm as chief of his community - a man of respect, wisdom, leader- ship and integrity. As a young boy he acted as transla- tor for dealings with provincial and federal politics. Billy's father was grooming him to become leader of his community and, eventually, the Cree Nation of Quebec. He used this position to help the Cree people develop.

If there's a business in the Cree territory of northern Quebec, it likely owes something to the work of Chief Billy Diamond, who has been referred to as the "Lee Iacocca of the North."

He's also become an adept political leader and negotiator, bringing agreement or at least co-operation to difficult situation after difficult situation.

School of Policy Studies, Robert Sutherland Hall
Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.3020