The Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation

The Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation promotes the growth of philanthropy for the benefit of the Eenou and Eeyou (the James Bay Crees).

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 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.

About the Foundation

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.

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.

A history of success

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.

Washaw Sibi

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 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.    

Restoring balance

Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute

Aanis-chau-gamuk”:  A home where the ways are handed down.

The award-winning Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute is a testament to the Cree spirit of enterprise and deep resolve to protect our identity for generations to come. It is also a clear illustration of what philanthropic partnerships can achieve and how the Crees of Eeyou Istchee can manage them. In 2000, the leaders of Eeyou Istchee established a charitable foundation, the Aanischaaukamikw Foundation,  and invited philanthropic partners 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 grand hall, exhibition galleries, documentation and research centre, archives and learning spaces welcome thousands of visitors annually. The Aanischaaukamikw Foundation coordinated and managed the highly successful $25 million fundraising campaign. This experience solidified the Crees’ ability to manage a successful major philanthropic endeavour, and paved the way for the Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation.

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 a priority list of granting objectives for major social and cultural development initiatives
  • Invest in pilot projects that can be replicated and attract long-term Cree and government support
  • Set rigorous standards for program planning, execution and reporting for Cree grant-seekers, and help them build operational capacity
  • Establish major endowments for priority areas. EECF will retain leading investment managers to grow these funds, and use endowment income to fund grants.

Strong, visionary leadership

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.

Foundation Board of Directors

Tina Petawabano, President
Director of Federal and Indigenous Relations – Cree Nation Government

Grand Chief  Dr. Abel Bosum, C.M.
Chair – Cree Nation Government

Derrick Neeposh
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