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In the 1960s, Quebec began developing potential hydroelectric resources in the North and established the James Bay Development Corporation in 1971 to monitor the development of the mining industry, the forestry industry and other potential resources, starting with the James Bay Hydroelectric project. This massive undertaking, led by an increasingly confident Quebec government, without consulting the natives, was rejected by most Cree and Inuit in northern Quebec. The Quebec Association of Indians – a group of ad hoc representatives from Northern Quebec – sued the government and obtained, on November 15, 1973, an injunction before the Quebec Superior Court that blocked the development of hydroelectricity until the province negotiated an agreement with Aboriginal nations. The James Bay and Northern Quebec agreement was amended by about 20 other agreements on the implementation and terms of the original agreement, as well as by the extension of its provisions. In addition, the Constitution Act of 1982 enshrined in the Constitution of Canada all rights granted in treaties and fonal claims enacted prior to 1982 and confers on the rights enshrined in the original agreement the status of constitutional rights. When the government refused to address the problem and insisted on dam construction, Cree and the IQA partnered with the Northern Quebec Inuit Association (NQIA). In November 1972, they filed a lawsuit to slow down the project and force the province to negotiate. Their main argument was that the land transfer agreements for James Bay and northern Quebec, concluded in 1898 and 1912 respectively, declared a commitment to negotiate the surrender of land rights. The Quebec government, which had little interest in its northern territories before 1960, did not consider it necessary to meet this obligation. Dispute resolution mechanisms are included in the two implementation agreements with Naskapi and the Inuit (NEQA and JBNQA) and in the New Relationship Agreement with cree.

Parties may use dispute resolution mechanisms to resolve or as stated issues relating to the interpretation, management or implementation of the JBNQA and NEQA. These mechanisms are usually initiated by a two- or three-part consultation phase. If a satisfactory solution is not found for all parties to the dispute, a mediation procedure and a possible arbitration procedure will follow in the initial phase. However, more than thirty modifier agreements, ancillary agreements and relevant laws illustrate the complex and dynamic nature of the Agreement. In 1984, the Canadian Parliament kept its promise of Aboriginal autonomy and adopted the Cree-Naskapi (Quebec), the first of its kind in the country (see Indigenous Self-Government in Canada). Naskapi joined the JBNQA in 1978 by signing the Northeast Accord of Quebec.

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