Northern Policy Institute Fifth Anniversary Gala - Thunder Bay, Ontario

Northern Policy Institute (NPI) is celebrating our 5 year anniversary in 2018. In order to celebrate this milestone and thank those who have contributed to our success, NPI will be hosting two Fifth Anniversary Gala fundraisers. All funds raised will go directly toward future projects and programs of NPI as we look ahead to the next five years. 

Harley d'Entremont & Charles Cirtwill welcome Gala guests 

Madge Richardson, Executive Director of North Superior Workforce Planning Board welcomes Dr. Matthew Coon Come. Dr. Matthew Coon Come delivers a keynote address to Gala guests 


The Gala in Northwest Ontario took place at The Chanterelle on Park in Thunder Bay, Ontario on October 18, 2018. The Gala included dinner with locally-sourced food, networking opportunities, and a talk from keynote speaker Dr. Matthew Coon Come.

The theme of the Gala was ‘Moving Forward Together; the hard work of reconciliation’ .

“No longer will we be adopting bylaws, but laws, like any normal government. No longer will we be submitting our laws to the minister for review and approval. It will be for us, and us alone, to decide on our laws of local and regional governance for our communities. As a mature government, this is a responsibility that we are more than ready to assume.”

With these words, then Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Crees, Matthew Coon Come, described the 2017 agreement with the federal government to expand once more the role of the Cree in governing the affairs of their community. Bringing these powers home again. But this agreement did not come about quickly or at a single stroke. Coon Come played a critical role in decades of negotiation and progress. Working in partnership first with the Quebec government then with the federal government to give meaning to the words self-government, cooperation and reconciliation.

The Cree-Quebec relationship is a model routinely held out for others to follow. Coon Come provided the Cree perspective on the sacrifices, compromises and hard stances needed to make real progress towards a true nation-to-nation relationship and the benefits accruing to both sides by sharing power and the risks associated with exercising that power.

Background readings that may be of interest for attendees of the Gala:


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Dr. Matthew Coon Come

    Former Chief of his home community of Mistissini, Que, Matthew Coon Come is known as one of the most significant leaders of the Cree Communities.

    Born in 1957 in Northern Quebec, Coon Come attended La Tuque Indian Residential School, in La Tuque Quebec. He grew up to study Political Science at Trent University, and Law at McGill University. Coon Come began his political career at the young age of 16, when he attended a meeting with his community elders to discuss Phase One of the James Bay Project.

    A member of Mistissini First Nation, Coon Come was first elected as Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Crees and Chairman of the Cree regional authority in 1987, where he served four terms in office.

    Coon Come became known for his efforts to defend the rights of First Nations peoples. As Grand Chief in the early 1990s, Coon Come was a key figure in a successful campaign to stop the second phase of the James Bay Hydroelectric Project. Coon Come organized a canoe trip of elders from James Bay to New York City to oppose the project, leading to the cancellation of the project in 1994. The development would have flooded Cree and Inuit territory along the Great Whale River near the communities of Whapmagoostui and Kuujjuarapik. 

    In 1994, Coon Come was awarded the Goldman Environment Prize for his efforts. In 1995, he received a National Aboriginal Achievement Award. He has also received 2 honorary degrees, including: A Doctor of Laws (LLD) from Trent University and a Doctor of Laws (LLD) from University of Toronto.

    Another historic accomplishment by Coon Come was an Agreement on Governance with Quebec, which after 7 years of negotiations, gave the Cree more power and influence in the James Bay region. Through this agreement, the municipality of James Bay was replaced by the Eeyou Istchee James Bay territory, a regional authority which would be governed by Cree and non-natives alike.

    In 2017, after serving over 40 years in government, Coon Come retired from the political scene.

    Thank you to the following sponsors:


    Platinum Sponsor

    North Superior Workforce Planning Board

    Silver Sponsors

    Port of Thunder Bay

    Thunder Bay International Airports Authority Inc

    Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association (NOMA)

    Bronze Sponsors

    Sencia Canada Ltd

    Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission (CEDC)

    Print Sponsor

    Lowerys

    First came Plan Nord, then came the joint governance of the Eeyou Istchee James Bay territory. A deal, which covered a “territory the size of Italy” according to the CBC. In 2012 the municipality of James Bay ceased to exist, instead the Cree and non-natives living in the territory were tasked to govern their region jointly. "There are no precedents," for this action said then Quebec Premier Jean Charest.

    This historic agreement did not come about quickly or at a single stroke, nor did it mark the end of progress in the Cree-Quebec and Cree-Canada relationship. Jean Charest played a critical role in decades of negotiation and progress. Working in partnership with the Cree people, Charest sought to give meaning to the words self-government, cooperation and reconciliation.

    The Cree-Quebec relationship is a model routinely held out for others to follow. Charest will provide the Quebec perspective on the creation of the Eeyou Istchee James Bay territory and the sacrifices, compromises and hard stances needed to make real progress towards a true nation-to-nation relationship and the benefits accruing to both sides by sharing power and the risks associated with exercising that power.

      Background reading that may be of interest for attendees to the Gala:


        Jean J. Charest - Biography

        Jean J. Charest is a renowned former Canadian politician and lawyer. He was born in Sherbrooke, Québec and received both his undergraduate degree and law degree from Université de Sherbrooke.

        Charest was first elected as Member of Parliament for Sherbrooke in 1984 then held the position of assistant deputy speaker of the House of Commons from 1984 to 1986. He was appointed Minister of State for Youth as the youngest person ever to serve in the federal Cabinet. By winter of 1989, he was deputy leader of the House of Commons.

        Charest ran for the leadership of the federal Conservatives in 1993, and finished a strong second to Kim Campbell. He was one of only two Conservative Members of Parliament elected in the 1993 campaign.

        In 1995, Charest again made history when he was appointed leader of the Conservative party – the first French Canadian to ever do so. In the 1997 election, the Charest Conservatives secured 19% of the national vote. Charest was a powerful voice in the 1995 Québec Referendum, playing a significant part in preventing the separation of Quebec from the rest of the country.

        In 1998, Charest became leader of the Québec Liberal Party. As Leader, he won three consecutive elections in 2003, 2007 and 2008. In February 2009, he was made a commander of the Legion of Honour by President Sarkozy of France.

        Charest resigned as Québec Liberal Party leader in 2012, ending a 28-year career in politics. He has since returned to the practice of law, joining the firm McCarthy Tétrault LLP as a full equity partner.