Cree Health Board Joins Cree Nation Government on Final Day of CERP Hearings

December 18, 2018

At the final day of public hearings of the Public Inquiry Commission on relations between Indigenous Peoples and certain public services in Québec (also known as CERP or the Viens Commission), CBHSSJB Chairperson Bella M. Petawabano and Executive Director Daniel St-Amour joined the Cree Nation representatives Grand Chef Dr. Abel Bosum, Bill Namagoose, Melissa Saganash, and legal counsel Mr. John Hurley, and Mr. François Dandonneau in a livestreamed session before the honourable Jacques Viens.

Watch the archived video of the December 14 hearing

Read more about this on the website of the Cree Nation Government

The Cree representatives presented a Final Brief to the Commission on behalf of the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) / Cree Nation Government and in verbal testimony, shared recommendations to recognize and address the existence of systemic racism in Quebec. 

While the main focus of the final day's testimony was policing, the Cree Nation Government's Final Brief included a chapter on health and social services, which included the main recommendations made by the Cree Health Board to the CERP. The Cree Health Board supported the assessment of the Cree Nation Government that inadequate, overcrowded housing is a major cause of social and health problems. The Cree Health Board also recommended widespread cultural safety training, legal recognition of the value and importance of traditional healing, and reiterated the continuing relevance of the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

The Cree Health Board has been strongly engaged with the Commission, appearing at hearings 18 times and submitting many detailed reports. The CBHSSJB offered emotional and mental health support from Residential School Workers to Cree community members who chose to share their experiences with the Commission. 

The 38-week public hearings phase of the Commission is now concluded, and the Commissioner will write his report, which will be issued in the fall of 2019. 

In his concluding remarks to the Cree representatives, the honourable Judge Viens assured them that the importance of housing will be reflected in his report, and stated that education and training should be part of the solution. "If people in Quebec are more educated concerning Indigenous realities, maybe the bias won't be there." Referring to the Cree contribution to the Inquiry, Judge Viens said, "You helped us a lot, and by helping us, you helped your People, by making sure we understand what's going on."