It is believed that the Cree people in the northern Quebec nation had a political autonomy before the arrival of the European in the 16th and 17th century. This was a right which was even prescribed in the Canadian constitution as the first nation which had an inherent right to self-government. But this autonomy was eroded with the arrival of the European in the region. The European colonies notably the French and the British had the desire although they lacked the necessary power to control the native peoples. Most of the European powers particularly the French however did not recognize the native sovereignty a move which created a lot of conflicts between them. The British on the other hand embarked on education mission aimed at converting the native people into Christians and thus making them abandon their traditional cultures and practices.
This was the beginning of the Cree people loss of independence and it went further into the loss of land as the settlers begun to stream into their territory. The European were also racist in that they never offered better education skills to the native students making it hard for them to secure better employment. With time they abandoned hunting, trapping and fishing practices a move which made them dependent on the European and thus losing their independence and autonomy.
Women and the culture
There was a great impact in social and cultural trends of the Cree people in the Northern Quebec Nation attributable to the fur-trade. However fur-trade had a significant impact on the Cree women as they facilitated the marketing process within and outside the region. Many actors and musicians opted to use fur made costumes as they symbolized their cultural origin. Although the Cree people used the fur garment as their national symbol, the continued exploitation of women raised the anti-fur trade campaigns. Since the trade used women as essential features in the sustainable propagation of the fur trade, the campaigns was aimed at halting the exploitation.
In the late 19th century women initialized a strong campaign against fur trade as it described them as a weaker sex. This was a movement which originated in Canada as the women opposed the continued exploitation in the fur-trade marketing and advertisements. The use of famous actress and celebrities’ nude pose in the promotion of fur-made items like coats fueled the campaign. According to the anti-fur activists the fur trading had a wrong implication to the integrity of the women and sort to portray them as objects rather than respectable human beings. In 1990s there was a celebrity anti-fur campaign which sort to bring down the fur-trade business in the region as they transformed the “skin for skin” motto into “I’d rather go naked than wear fur” slogan.
Fur- trade and the beaver’s protection
Before the arrival of the European the Cree of the northern Quebec had their stable and self-reliant economy. They used to depend on hunting, fishing and other traditional practices which emphasized their origin. The arrival of the European and the introduction of fur-trade drastically changed the Cree people way of life as there was a formation of a new interdependent economy. The introduction of the axes and guns also greatly facilitated their hunting and warfare techniques. By 1929 the Canadian beaver’s population is said to have reduced significantly something which greatly tampered with their hunting practices and economy as well. This was due to the eventually over hunting facilitated by the introduction of fire arms and other modern hunting techniques. Since the extinction of the beavers threatened the livelihood of the Cree people and the fur-trade, something had to be done to prevent such a scenario.
It is in 1930 when Maud Watt renowned for her endless move towards preserving the beaver petitioned to the Quebec government to set aside a beaver preservation land. Her persuasive character won the support from the government which leased approximately 7,200 square miles land between the Eastmain and Rupert rivers. The move was successful since by 1944 there were approximately 13,000 beavers inhabiting in the segregated area. This was however made possible by the agreement made between the native hunters not to poach from this area. To date the efforts of Jimmy and Maud Watt are still much alive in the retention and preservation of the beavers which were and are still critical in the fur-trade sector and act as a symbol of the Cree people culture and tradition.
James Bay Mega project
The nationalization of the Hydro-Quebec electric companies also boosted the economy of this Northern Quebec territory as it diversified the income channels of the Cree people. Although the native people of the land opposed the project initially, the project turned out to be beneficial and key to the Quebec’s economy. The election of the liberal party in 1962 was a great step towards the realization of this long-term hydro-electric project. The enactment of hydro-Quebec not only served the needs of the local and native people but it also demonstrated the strength and capability of the Quebec government. It ushered other mega projects initiatives in the land which further boosted their economy.
Today the Hydro-Quebec project is identified as the major economic pillar of the province since it has a significant contribution to the economic growth of the region. The Canadian government also supported and funded the project as its completion would positively translate to some mutual benefit between the two nations. The project welcomed other public and private sector project which directly or in-directly depended on the Hydro-electric power to operate. The project greatly improved the Cree people standard of living as it transformed their way of life. The new era of electric power transformed their traditional and manual production method into modern power driven techniques which are more effective and reliable.
Institutionalization and unionization process
More public institutions were established in the bid of making the province economically autonomous. Mining, forestry and petroleum industries were among the major public companies created to improve the welfare of the Cree people. Considering the fact that the Northern Quebec land was endowed with abundance natural resources the companies purposed to effectively exploit such resources for the benefit of the general public. The creation of institutions provided.
The nation also engaged itself into the selling of the untransformed natural resources at reduced prices which further increased the financial autonomy of the people in the region. There was a quiet revolution in the Quebec where the natives claimed that their natural resources were being exploited for little profit. As a result the government started encouraging the small investor’s contribution into the economy a move which boosted the financial sustainability of the Cree people. The people also established labor union in 1964 which advocated for their rights and fair treatments in the mega projects companies. The labor unions were also aimed at mediating between the native people, companies and the government. They gave the public employees the right to strike whenever their rights were infringed and thus bettering their working conditions.