By Richard F. Salisbury
A place of birth for the Cree is a useful research of the way the 1st James Bay undertaking used to be negotiated among the Cree and the Quebec executive. Richard Salisbury follows the negotiations which all started in 1971 and analyses the alterations to Cree society over a ten-year interval in mild of the local improvement in James Bay.
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Additional resources for A homeland for the Cree: Regional development in James Bay, 1971-1981
In 1964 the opening of a day school in Mistassini marked the beginning of local primary schools; the Sand Park school in Fort George steadily expanded the number of grades taught, so permitting more children from other Cree communities to delay their departure from a Cree-speaking community. The teachers in these schools were no longer missionaries, but increasingly during the 1960s were professional teachers, attracted by the experience of teaching for a short period in an exotic northern environment and paid extra "Northern allowances/' There was little opportunity to spend these allowances during the school year, since the teachers were housed in specially 36 A Homeland for the Cree built apartments close to the schools, for which only a minimal rent was deducted from their salaries.
In short, Cree education was neither intolerably bad nor commendably good in 1971. It was improving rapidly from an earlier period of neglect; it had reached the standard of rural school systems in southern Canada of perhaps ten years earlier; it was provided by white officials, through white teachers, in village schools. Involvement of Cree in the provision of that education, and in a concern for its quality, was restricted to a very small number of individuals. None had yet become involved in the regional structures outside the villages that supplied the village school.
Conversely, the number of non-Cree living in Cree villages was even smaller. About 200 non-status Indians, with some white (Scottish or Russian) ancestry, were not included in the official DINA registers, but otherwise lived, hunted, and were treated by all as part of the majority of Cree residents. Quebec statistics for 1971 show 120 white residents in Great Whale, 150 in Fort George, and figures of 5 for Paint Hills, 7 for Eastmain, and 23 for Rupert's House. Another 50 should be added for Mistassini.