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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation works with the Cree Nation Government and other Cree stakeholders to:
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.
Tina Petawabano, President
Director of Federal and Indigenous Relations – Cree Nation Government
Grand Chief Mandy Gull-Masty
Chair – Cree Nation Government
Adrian N. Gunner
Youth Grand Chief, Cree Nation Youth Council
Me. Paul John Murdoch
Chief Negotiator for Cree-Quebec Relations – Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)
Chair – Cree Nation Government Board of Compensation
Dr. Sarah Pashagumskum
Chair – Cree School Board
Chair – Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay
Congratulations to Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute on the launch of its wonderful new interactive web site.
Congratulations to Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute on the launch of its wonderful new interactive web site. Thank you to Mastercard Foundation for its generous support to the project. The Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation was delighted to partner with Mastercard Foundation and Aanischaaukamikw in this remarkable new site.
The Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation is very pleased to announce a grant to support the Robin’s Nest women’s shelters in response to COVID-19.
The Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation is very pleased to announce a grant to support the Robin’s Nest women’s shelters in response to COVID-19. The funds were provided by the MakeWay Foundation through the generosity of Dragonfly Ventures.
Thank you to MakeWay and Dragonfly for their support of charitable projects in the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee.
Learn more about Robin’s Nest.
During the COVID-19 crisis, many Eenou and Eeyou living in the James Bay region, and many Elders in particular, are facing serious challenges in terms of their health due to Covid-19 restrictions.
During the COVID-19 crisis, many Eenou and Eeyou living in the James Bay region, and many Elders in particular, are facing serious challenges in terms of their health due to Covid-19 restrictions. Some are faced with shortages of healthy, traditional food because they are not able to fish, tend to traplines, or to hunt.
Support from the Government of Canada’s Emergency Community Support Fund has made it possible for the Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation to make special grants for several food sovereignty and food security projects in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Recipients include several Cree entities and communities, including the Cree Trappers Association, which is employing hunters and fishers to provide traditional food to Elders and community members in need. The communities of Wemindji and Whapmagoostui conducted projects with Elders teaching youth regarding traditional Cree fishing practices, with the catches provided to local Elders.
Tina Petawabano, President of the Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation, explains the importance of this initiative:
“In addition to meeting a clear need during this challenging time, these projects reflect very basic principles and traditions of the people of Eeyou Istchee, including the importance of providing our Elders with the kind of foods that are essential to their dietary needs and passing our cultural traditions to our youth.”
For more information about this and other Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation initiatives, please contact Tina Petawabano, Foundation President, at firstname.lastname@example.org