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.
The people of the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee have travelled far and worked hard to secure broad recognition of who we are 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, across the ten communities of Eeyou Istchee, far too many do not enjoy many of 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 pronounced.
Everything the Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation does flows from the Eenou and Eeyou philosophy of putting sustainability of our land first. We are 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.
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 almost a third of our land in an untouched and undeveloped state, and we insist on Cree-led environmental reviews of any development projects in the region.
Acting on the guidance of these principles, the Foundation is committed to supporting a wide range of charitable causes across the region.
The Eenou and Eeyou 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 of the European technologies and ways – assets that would later prove invaluable. 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.
With the establishment of the Hudson’s Bay Company (1670), we expanded our traditional trapping practices in order to participate in this fur-trading economy.
Like First Nations across the continent, we gradually lost control of our lands, rights, and resources. During some darker periods, families were uprooted from their homes and lands. Poverty became a way of life, and many of us lost our children to the infamous residential school system, whose long shadow haunts Canada and its indigenous people to this day.
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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 and, in the process, 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 stepped forward. They 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 paved the way for self-government and territorial rights. Other agreements followed, notably the Paix des Braves Agreement (2002) and the New Relationship Agreement with the federal government (2008). Most recently, the Eeyou Istchee James Bay Governance Agreement (2012) laid out a framework for shared governance, development and partnerships across one of the world’s largest regional governments, and the Crees of Eeeyou Istchee and the Government of Canada Agreement (2017) advances Cree self-governance on Category 1A lands.
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 with great effectiveness, and deliver culturally appropriate essential services across our vast territory.
Through our community and economic development efforts, we have regained much of what was lost, but there is still much to be done. It is into this challenging social and economic environment that the Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation strives to make a profound difference through programs that will respond to the needs.
In the late 1990’s, the Cree Elders identified that there was a need for a major cultural institution in Eeyou Istchee that followed the vision of the Elders for “aanscha” — the passing on of Cree culture and traditions. In 2000, the leaders of Eeyou Istchee established a charitable foundation, the Aanischaaukamikw Foundation, and invited philanthropic parters to invest in an award-winning architectural masterwork which celebrates and protects Cree language and culture, executing a highly successful campaign.
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 coordinated and managed the highly successful $25 million fundraising campaign. This experience demonstrated the Cree’s ability to manage a successful major philanthropic endeavour, and proved our ability to reach out successfully to governments, corporations, institutions, and the people of Eeyou Istchee. This endeavour paved the way for the Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation.
The Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation works with the Cree Nation Government and other Cree stakeholders to:
A long tradition of wise and prudent governance informs the Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation. The Board of Directors is broadly representative of Cree leadership in business, education, health and social services, culture, and government sectors. EECF board members are distinguished for their high ethical standards and reputation. The Board sets policy and guidelines for assessing grant requests from Cree communities. The Board will meet regularly to distribute grants, basing decisions on the viability and expected impact of each project, and tracking milestones, deliverables, and outcomes.
Tina Petawabano, President
Director of Federal and Indigenous Relations – Cree Nation Government
Grand Chief Dr. Abel Bosum, C.M.
Chair – Cree Nation Government
Chair – Cree Nation Government Board of Compensation
Kaitlynn Hester Moses
Youth Grand Chief, Cree Nation Youth Council
Me. Paul John Murdoch
Chief Negotiator for Cree-Quebec Relations – Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)
Dr. Sarah Pashagumskum
Chair – Cree School Board
Bella M. Petawabano
Chair – Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay
The Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation is delighted to announce a generous contribution from Power Corporation to the Foundation’s “Casting Our Net Wider” inaugural fundraising campaign. The gift will be allocated to the Foundation’s Youth Development
The Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation is delighted to announce a generous contribution from Power Corporation to the Foundation’s “Casting Our Net Wider” inaugural fundraising campaign. The gift will be allocated to the Foundation’s Youth Development Fund. It will be endowed, and the annual proceeds will fund projects for Cree youth.
“We see enormous potential in the young First Nations people of Canada, and we’re delighted to be able to support the Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation as they fund breakthrough projects in this area,” explains Power Corporation Chairman Paul Desmarais Jr.
Grand Chief Abel Bosum, Chair of the Cree Nation Government underscores the unique and special nature of the gift: “By contributing this very special endowment, Power Corporation is demonstrating the trust Canadian businesses and institutions have placed in our Foundation. This kind of philanthropy is certainly fitting of a thoughtful and progressive organization like Power Corporation, and clearly shows their commitment to reconciliation through youth development.”
The Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation’s “Casting Our Net Wider” campaign creates unique philanthropic opportunities to invest in the future of Eeyou Istchee through six funds: education, youth development, housing, community development, health and social services, and culture.
The Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation is pleased to announce that we have partnered with the Mastercard Foundation’s COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program.
The Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation is pleased to announce that we have partnered with the Mastercard Foundation’s COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program. This $500,000 partnership will support the distance education programs of the Cree School Board and the Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute by providing access to hardware and increased connectivity.
The need for additional connectivity support for these programs has become crucial because of the closing of education facilities in Eeyou Istchee due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Cree students are experiencing gaps in internet infrastructure, availability of technology in the home, and access to online learning resources to support learning outside of the classroom.
The support from the Mastercard Foundation will help Cree School Board continuing education students by providing computers and internet access so they can take advantage of distance education opportunities. It will also enable improved access to the virtual museum of the Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute by upgrading its website so students can access the wealth of Cree culture, history, and language programs and resources that the Institute offers online.
“During this unprecedented period, our young people must not become isolated and disconnected from access to their education. This generous support from the Mastercard Foundation will allow us to give Cree students important tools—a key to learning that will increase their knowledge, and ultimately their chances for success.”
Grand Chief Dr. Abel Bosum, Chair—Cree Nation Government
“This crisis is teaching us how interdependent we are as well as how powerful collective action can be. In particular, it is essential that the education of our young people does not lose momentum. As individuals and as families, we must strive to stay connected to learning through every means available. Collectively, we can be a counterforce to the economic effects of COVID-19, and education is a most powerful tool in this endeavour.”
Reeta Roy, President and CEO—Mastercard Foundation
For more information, please contact:
Tina Petawabano, President
Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation
Montreal business and philanthropic sector leaders gather at Maison des Régions to hear more about “The Grand Alliance” and the Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation.
On February 26th, the Cree Nation Government and the City of Montreal hosted almost a hundred leaders from major businesses and philanthropic institutions as Grand Chief Abel Bosum of the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) presented a description of the new major new economic alliance for northern Quebec and introduced the audience to the Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation and its $40 million “Casting Our Net Wider” fund-raising campaign.
The Grand Chief and assembled guests were welcomed by Deputy Mayor Sterling Downey of the City of Montreal. Grand Chief Bosum spoke in detail about “The Grand Alliance”, an historic 30-year agreement between the Cree Nation and the government of Quebec.
View Grand Chief Bosum’s remarks here.
As Co-Chair of the Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation’s “Casting Our Net Wider” campaign, Grand Chief Bosum invited the leaders attending the event to invest in this important campaign.