My submission for MOTF 216:
The narrow victory of the YES at the 1995 Quebec Independence Referendum was a stunning piece of news all over Canada, but perhaps nowhere was it as much of a shock as in Northern Quebec.
The fate of the extensive region, rich in Minerals, wood and particularly hydraulic ressources, but sparsely populated by a significant Native population was already a matter of concern before the Results came up, the referendum however, would propel it at the forefront of International Diplomacy.
Over the chaotic next 3 years, Canada and the Soon-to-be independent Quebec wagged a terrible war of influence over the ressource rich region, favours were exchanged for exploitation rights, Inuit and Cree communities, despesperately trying to save their autonomy, were courted for supports and centuries-old maps and treaties were dusted in attempts to claim past ownerships. That war of influence wasn't too cold either, as demonstrated by the many border crisis and show of force by the Canadian and the new Quebecker Army.
In the end, the question of who would would get the land had to be settled, the North, Nunavik, went to Canada as part of the New territory of Nunavut, Quebec City's attempt at keeping it ending up vain. They however managed to keep the Caniapiscau region next to Labrador, with the exception of the Naskapi Inhabited exclaves stuck between Nunavik and Labrador, which decided after a referendum to join the later.
Everybody knew that the most delicate question was the fate of Jamesie, its extensive hydraulic ressources were critical to the Multi-Billion Hydroelectric giant Hydro-Quebec. The region was however inhabited by both Native Cree and French in roughly equal numbers, but living in separate towns. While negotiations were ongoing Washington quickly made it clear that the exploitation of the large dams should not be jeopardise, as Hydro Quebec's export made powered a significant part of the north-east american grid. By 1997 Parizeau seemed able to snatch the region for Quebec, but a few diplomatic blunder caused by violence between Quebecker police and militias and Cree in Mistissini proved to be a rallying moment for Chrétien, riding on his reelection and not having to carefuly handle the various secessionist desires which appeared in the months following the referendum in western and maritime canada, as the impassionated negotiations between Ottawa and Quebec deterred them. He managed to strike a deal: Jamésie would not be part of Quebec or Canada, but ruled by both.
Thus was born the Condominium of Jamésie, the compromise was supposed to resolve conflicts by representing equally Francophones and Crees, by continuing the exploitation of the Dams while enshrining the Natives' right to their land, all headed by a council in Chibougamau, where representatives appointed by Ottawa and Quebec sit
The reality is different though, 15 years after its creation and the conflict between Quebec and Canada, between Hydro-quebec and the Cree still continues, the latest tensions concern the situation of the La Grande 1 dam, the most downstream of the great Rivers on the eponymous river as the Dam is located on the border of land managed by the Chisasibi Cree community , Montreal wants the exploitation right extended to accomodate for renovation and the stream of quebecker workers, always reaching the limit of the work related immigration quotas while the poor Chisasibi want a say on the management of the reservoir and the a part of the power export. In the south another source of conflict lies in the Mistissini's claim for a larger exclusive land exploitation area, supported by Ottawa but stritctly denied by Quebec on the basis that the neighboring region is part of a natural reserve that none should exploit.
Next to the quebecker border many Francophone inhabitants are starting to feel they don't belong to the condominium, economics opportunities are scarce in the region beyond the Hydroelectric sector and there is a growing resentment at the lack of attention of either government, more focused on the ressources rich north and despite Quebec's subsidies to every francophone inhabitant of the region there is a growing movement of francophone to quebec, mirroring the ongoing stream of Ontarian francophone away from Canada. Other still hope for a second mining boom in the condominium with a recent increase in prospecting licenses, but with the Cree's and NGO opposition to mining development and the suspicious attitude of Ottawa and Quebec over each other's involvment in mining project, it is clear that the Hydroelectric sector will stay the sole profitable one in the condominium for the foreseeable future.