In the spirit of mutual respect and honour, we make a commitment to help one another be strong and get back up when we fall. We will protect our land, water, wildlife, and natural resources to ensure that the current generations and those to come will continue to benefit from our way of life.
In planning our new village, we embraced a vision of a sustainable community. The purpose of our vision was to restore our traditional way of life and community well-being fully within the context of contemporary life with its facilities and institutions.
In our traditional way of life, there is no formal distinction between work and play, teaching and learning, family and individual roles or between healing and daily life. In fact, daily life encompasses learning, healing, play, and a deep and rich network of social relationships. Our new village was designed as a source of learning, spiritual renewal, and physical and economic sustenance. The village is where wounds, past and present, are healed.
At the heart of village life are our traditional Cree ways of relating to one another and to the world around us. As we designed and built our village, community members played a critical role at every level of the decision-making process. From our shattered and uncertain past, Oujé-Bougoumou emerged as the physical expression of our hopes and dreams and as a shared vision of a bright and exciting future. We are proud to call Oujé-Bougoumou home.
In Oujé-Bougoumou we promote healing and spiritual well-being. We embrace our responsibility to inspire hope in our youth and encourage every young person to
pursue their dreams and aspirations.
Prior to the construction of what is now our permanent home, we were in a state of constant displacement. Over a period of less than 50 years, the people of Oujé-Bougoumou were relocated seven times, resulting in appalling living conditions comparable to those found in the Third World.
After hard-fought negotiations, we reached deals with the provincial and federal governments and a pledge to be included in the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement. In 1992, the Government of Canada agreed to contribute 42 million dollars toward building our village and a 13-million-dollar fund to manage housing.
With these funds in place, we began to create a forward-looking model community that would be both self-sufficient and sustainable. Our commitment to ensuring our community’s long-term well-being guided our development of a permanent settlement located on the shores of Lake Opemiska.
We wanted our new village’s physical appearance to reflect our cultural heritage. That is why we turned to renowned Aboriginal architect Douglas Cardinal. His achievements include Canada’s Museum of History and the National Museum of the American Indian at the Smithsonian Institution. Douglas Cardinal is credited with pioneering an indigenous Canadian style of architecture. He is a passionate architect who places community and nature at the heart of his work to design beautiful, thriving, and harmoniously built environments. We were confident that he would achieve our vision for our village, enabling us to create affordable, comfortable, and energy-efficient housing with an emphasis on individual home-ownership.
In keeping with our emphasis on sustainability, our village is powered by an innovative alternative energy system that converts sawdust from nearby mills into energy to provide heat and hot water to homes and businesses.
The people of Oujé-Bougoumou are the community’s greatest resource. Every person who lives here has a wealth of life experiences and an amazing story to tell.
Our elders had a vision of a community for their children and for their grandchildren. This vision sustained them in their struggle to transform their dream into reality. The elders of the Oujé-Bougoumou Nation have given us so much, not least the benefit of their wise counsel. They have preserved our sense of community in the face of tremendous adversity. They have given us the courage to continue our struggle. They provided perspective and direction whenever needed. The older generations were our community’s protectors and defenders; as the inheritors of this legacy, the younger generations will continue to build a community that remains true to our vision.
Our efforts to foster skill-development and education, which are crucial to ensuring our community’s viability and self-sufficiency, are primarily aimed at our younger generation. They are, afterall, the main beneficiaries of the advanced learning and specialized training opportunities that are designed to guarantee our community’s well-being. The future of our community belongs to our youths. Young members of the Cree Nation of Oujé-Bougoumou are determined to build a bright future for themselves upon the foundation of our faith in God, our Creator, and the culture and traditions passed down by our ancestors and elders.
We are proud of our community and continue to be inspired by all that we’ve achieved over the last 50 years. We are confident that, as a community and as a Nation, we will go from strength to strength.
In recognition of our commitment to sustainability, we are honoured to share that Oujé-Bougoumou was the recipient of the following prestigious awards.
In 1995, the United Nations awarded its Global Citizen Award to Oujé-Bougoumou in recognition of the community’s efforts to develop an environmentally and people-friendly community.
As part of its 50th anniversary celebrations, the UN bestowed its “We the Peoples” award on Oujé-Bougoumou in the Human Settlements category as part of a tribute to 50 model communities from around the world.
Other prizes awarded to Oujé-Bougoumou include Habitat II: Best Practices Award, Expo 2000, and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Award.