The Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation

The Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation provides philanthropic support for the Crees of Eeyou Istchee, in northern Quebec. The Foundation is Cree-led, with a Board of Directors comprised of Cree government and civil society leaders, and promotes the social and cultural development priorities of the Cree nation. 

The Foundation works to build capacity and resiliency in the Cree communities and institutions through funds related to education, youth development, culture, health and social services, housing, and community development. 

Like in the rest of the world, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound social, economic, and cultural impact on the Crees of Eeyou Istchee.  We continue to respond to and adapt to this very different way of living and working. 

The Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation is responding to the crisis with support for urgent needs (please see the News section of this site to learn of our $500,000 partnership with Mastercard Foundation) and support from the Government of Canada’s Emergency Community Support Fund. These initiatives will contribute to the post-COVID recovery and rebuilding efforts in Eeyou Istchee. 

Contact us for more information about the Foundation’s response to the Covid pandemic and our work to provide philanthropic support to Cree communities and institutions.

Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation and Covid-19

Tina Petawabano

Chair

Cell: 514 209-9117
tina.petawabano@cngov.ca

Ross A. Clark

Director of Development

Cell: 514 910-2075
ross@creefoundation.ca

We are the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee

The people of the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee have travelled far and worked hard to secure broad recognition of who we are, our remarkable history, and what we can accomplish. We have regained mastery of our lands and resources. We have established institutions of sound governance, launched flourishing businesses, and built strategic alliances with business and government at all levels. 

And yet, too many who live across the ten communities of Eeyou Istchee lack the advantages non-Native communities take for granted. In housing and social services, in health care and cultural development, in education and job creation, the gap remains far too wide.    

About the Foundation

Guided by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations, the Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation reflects the Eeyou Istchee philosophy of putting the needs of our land, our people, and our communities first. 

We are deeply committed to preserving the land we’ve walked for thousands of years, so both the Boreal forest and species like Woodland caribou, moose, and others are secured. The Cree Nation Government has set aside, untouched and undeveloped, almost a third of our land, and we insist on Cree-led environmental reviews of any development projects in the region. 

Guided by these principles, the Foundation supports a wide range of charitable causes across the region.

Casting our
net wider

Our inaugural campaign
about our  campaign
We are the Eenou and the Eeyou
We are almost 20,000 strong,
living in 10 Cree communities across Northern Quebec.

We are the Eenou and the Eeyou

We are over 20,000 strong, living in 10 Cree communities across Northern Quebec. 

We have lived in harmony with the cycles of nature for millennia. Ancient laws and customs guided the Crees’ shared stewardship of a vast territory called Eeyou Istchee. When Europeans arrived, our people integrated some valuable European technologies and ways. We developed a reputation as skilled negotiators and intermediaries with other nations. The Cree system of land and resource management began to shift in the early 1600s.

When the Hudson’s Bay Company was established (1670), we expanded our traditional trapping practices to participate in this fur-trading economy. Like First Nations across the continent, the Crees gradually lost control of our lands, rights, and resources. Families were uprooted from their homes and lands. Poverty became a way of life, and many of our children were forced into the infamous residential school system, whose long shadow haunts Canada and its indigenous people to this day.

Taking Control of our Destiny

In the 1970’s, when a massive hydroelectric project threatened Cree lands and way of life, the leaders of Eeyou Istchee stepped forward. They changed the project’s course, won self-government for the Crees, and established a strong voice in future developments.

Quebec’s James Bay hydroelectric project, planned without consulting the people most affected, was a defining moment in modern Cree history. The project would forever flood Cree lands and erase an ancient way of life. In response to this threat to our very existence, our leaders launched challenges in the courts of law and public opinion and successfully negotiated compensation for the affected communities.

On November 11, 1975, the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA) was signed–a world first for Indigenous peoples. Beyond material compensation, the agreement formalized self-government and territorial rights. This agreement launched a movement toward increasing self-determination for the Crees of Eeyou Istchee. 

Subsequent agreements include the Paix des Braves Agreement (2002) and the New Relationship Agreement with the federal government (2008). The Eeyou Istchee James Bay Governance Agreement (2012) established shared governance, development and partnerships across one of the world’s largest regional governments. The Crees of Eeyou Istchee and the Government of Canada Agreement (2017) advanced Cree self-governance on lands surrounding the Cree communities.   

Each has been an important milestone in helping us determine our way forward.

As a nation, we have evolved significantly since the signing of the JBNQA. Today, many Cree-owned business flourish and contribute to Quebec and Canadian prosperity. We manage our own education and health care systems very effectively, and deliver culturally appropriate essential services across our vast territory.

Through our community and economic development efforts, we are rebuilding long-standing family and community structures, but much remains to be accomplished. Within this challenging social and economic environment, the Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation aims to make a profound difference through programs that will respond to the needs of our people and our communities. 

Restoring Balance

Philanthropy in Action —
Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute

In the late 1990’s, the Cree Elders identified the need for a major cultural institution in Eeyou Istchee that would embody their vision of “aanscha”—the passing on of Cree culture and traditions. In 2000, the leaders of Eeyou Istchee established a charitable foundation, the Aanischaaukamikw Foundation. The Foundation executed a highly successful $25 million fundraising campaign by inviting philanthropic partners to invest in a ground-breaking new cultural organization that would celebrate and protect Cree language and culture.

Located in Oujé-Bougoumou and completed in 2011, Aanischaaukamikw is today among the world’s leading institutions devoted to the study of Indigenous history and culture. The Aanischaaukamikw Foundation’s great philanthropic success demonstrated the Cree’s ability to manage a successful major fundraising campaign, and proved our capacity to engage governments, corporations, institutions, and the people of Eeyou Istchee. The Aanischaaukamikw campaign’s success paved the way for the Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation, established in 2016. 

Learn more about the Sophie Happyjack -Bosum Memorial Fund here.

New Memorial Fund

Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation Goals

The Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation works with the Cree Nation Government and other Cree stakeholders to:

  • Engage Cree organizations, communities and individuals, as well as corporate partners, private foundations and neighbours to lend philanthropic support for projects in Eeyou Istchee
  • Establish priorities for major social and cultural development projects
  • Develop pilot projects that can be replicated to attract long-term Cree and government support
  • Set rigorous standards to plan, execute, and report on programs, helping Cree grant-seekers build operational capacity
  • Establish major, professionally-managed endowments for priority areas and use endowment income to fund grants.

Strong, visionary leadership

The Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation is the legacy of a long tradition of wise and prudent governance. The Board of Directors includes Cree leaders from the business, education, health and social services, culture, and government sectors distinguished by their high ethical standards and reputation.  

The Board sets policy and guidelines for assessing grant requests from Cree communities, and meets regularly to distribute grants. Decisions are based on the viability and expected impact of each project, and by carefully tracking each project’s progress and outcomes.  

Foundation Board of Directors

Dr. Sarah Pash, Chair
Chair – Cree School Board

Grand Chief  Mandy Gull-Masty
Chair – Cree Nation Government

Adrian N. Gunner
Youth Grand Chief, Cree Nation Youth Council

Derrick Neeposh
Chair – Cree Nation Government Board of Compensation

Bertie Wapachee
Chair – Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay

News

May 31, 2024

Figurr Architects Launch Education Fund at Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation

Figurr Architects Launch Education Fund at Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation

Figurr Architects Collective has launched the Figurr Architects Cree Education Fund in partnership with the Eeyou-Eenou Community Foundation.

Figurr Architects Collective has launched the Figurr Architects Cree Education Fund in partnership with the Eeyou-Eenou Community Foundation. This fund establishes opportunities for educational success and empowerment of Indigenous youth in the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee. It provides financial assistance for resources and programs that will enable youth to pursue their academic and career goals and is aligned with the priorities put forward by Cree stakeholders.

Figurr Senior Partner Stephen Rotman explains: “The Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee is growing exponentially. This new education fund – launched in honour of Figurr’s 35th anniversary – marks a milestone for the Figurr team and is a testament to the trust and support we have established with the Cree communities in Northern Quebec over the last 10 years. We are deeply grateful for these relationships and are committed to furthering our shared goals. We believe that the Figurr Architects Cree Education Fund will encourage the development of innovative ideas that help Cree youth pursue careers that respond become the architects of resilient, thriving communities.”

During National Indigenous History Month in June, Figurr Architects Collective will match all donations, up to a total of $3,500!

How to Donate

Donate by credit card on line by clicking on the Donate button on the Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation web site or by cheque payable to the Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation and indicate “Figurr Architects Cree Education Fund” in the memo line. All donations will receive a charitable tax receipt.  

Mail cheques to:
Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation
700 de La Gauchetière West, Suite 1600
Montréal, Québec H3B 5M2

Read More

EECF Chair Dr. Sarah Pash presents the Teepee Project at the Fulbright “Honouring Nations Canada” event in Ottawa.

May 28, 2024

Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation Receives Recognition by Fulbright Canada

Recognition by Fulbright Canada

The Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation was recently given a Fulbright Canada “Honouring Nations Canada” Indigenous Governance Award for the innovative Teepee Project.

The Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation was recently given a Fulbright Canada “Honouring Nations Canada” Indigenous Governance Award for the innovative Teepee Project.

A collaboration of the Cree Health Board and the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake, the Teepee Project provides unique healing and support for over one hundred Elders and other Cree patients in medical care in Montreal area every month through visits to the site.

Volunteers prepare and share traditional foods not available in southern health care facilities and facilitate cultural traditions on site in Kahnawake.

“The Honouring Nations Canada Indigenous Governance Awards Awards recognize exceptional achievement in solutions to Indigenous issues and Indigenous economic development. The Foundation is very proud to have been chosen for this Award from among so many exceptional indigenous honourees from across Canada. We’re thankful to Fulbright, and to our project partners Assurance Beneva, the Cree Health and Social Services Board, and the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake for their vision and support.”

Dr. Sarah Pash
Chair,
Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation

Read More

April 3, 2024

Willie Iserhoff 1955-2024

Willie Iserhoff 1955-2024

The Board members and staff of the Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Willie Iserhoff.

The Board members and staff of the Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Willie Iserhoff.

Willie was a founding and long-time member of the Foundation’s Board of Directors.

Through his role as Director of the Cree Regional Authority Department of Traditional Pursuits, Willie was a central ally in the Foundation’s work to support the development, designing, and construction of the Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute in Oujé-Bougoumou.

Much loved by his colleagues, Willie offered wise counsel delivered with good humour to volunteers, staff, and consultants alike throughout our long association.

We extend our deepest sympathies to Willie’s wife, Annie, and his children, Calvin, Fawn, and Joshua.

Dr. Sarah Pash, Chair

Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation

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