United Nations "We the Peoples" Award
Oujé-Bougoumou was recently honoured by the international community by receiving one of the "We the Peoples: 50 Communities Award", one of the programs established to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the United Nations.
The award was given to Oujé-Bougoumou in the category of Human Settlements for our efforts in the course of constructing our new village.
We the Peoples:
New York City,
September 22-24, 1995
On behalf of the people of Oujé-Bougoumou I would like to express to all of the communities represented here this weekend the great honour it is for us to be considered worthy of being among you. The communities gathered here for this conference represent inspiring examples of how to overcome great difficulties in order to make the world a better place in which to live. We are truly humbled by our having been selected to sit with you today.
Over the long course of our political struggles we had the opportunity to give serious thought to the fundamental planning principles and issues which we knew we would face in the construction of a new village. We came to realize very early in the planning of our new village that the process which we were involved in was in a sense like having a clean slate, a clean piece of paper upon which we were charged with the responsibility to write the first chapter of our community′s future. We were not obliged to build the village in a particular way and we did not have any preconceived ideas about what was the best way to proceed. What we did have was a very profound sense of responsibility which came from the fact that we all realized that we were building our new village not only for ourselves but for the future generations of our people. We realized that for the legacy which we were leaving for the future generations to be a worthy legacy, and one which we could be proud of leaving behind, we could not afford to be short-sighted and that we had to examine very carefully all the possible solutions to our planning problems, especially what may have appeared to be "easy" solutions, to make sure that they would stand the test of long-term appropriateness. Throughout our planning we tried to imagine ourselves looking at our decisions from the perspective of several generations down the road and wondering if our decisions would be viewed as still beneficial then. We knew that we had only one chance to build a new village and we needed to do it right.
In order to give you a true picture of the dynamics which were at work in our community which made our political and planning successes possible I must emphasize that there was a factor at play which cannot be overlooked nor under-estimated. That factor is the personal strength, determination and commitment on the part of the individual Oujé-Bougoumou members to undertake the first steps toward their own healing. We decided very early on in our struggles that in spite of the decades of abuse we had suffered that we would do whatever it would take personally to deal with a very wide range of personal and social problems which were the result of the impacts of colonialism and the consequent dispossession of parts of our territory, and our alienation and marginalization from the economic, political and social life of our region. We did this for the sake of our children and for the sake of the future generations of Oujé-Bougoumou Crees. I believe that it is not an exaggeration to say that if that personal commitment were not present, supported by a renewed and redefined approach to our spiritual needs, than all the other successes would not have been possible.
What we have learned through our experiences is that genuine progress comes when all of the basic factors which comprise human development are addressed and are in harmony . In our case, the determination of our personal commitments made it possible also to honestly and courageously undertake our political struggles. The success of those political struggles then reinforced our personal growth. These changes together then, in turn, created the background upon which we had the strength to undertake daring and innovative community development projects. And these successes further reinforced our personal development and confirmed for us the wisdom of our approach to political struggles.
Our achievements in constructing our new village represents living proof that aboriginal self-determination works. Give us the tools and the result will be an enormous release of creative energies directed at building healthy sustainable communities.
In 1987, the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations granted recognition to the Grand Council of the Crees as a non-governmental organization in consultative status. For many years now, we have participated in the drafting of the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The declaration′s preamble recognizes that "respect for indigenous knowledge, cultures and traditional practices contributes to sustainable and equitable development and proper management of the environment". We believe that our experience in Oujé-Bougoumou, as well as the experience of many of the recipients of the "We the Peoples" Award, bear eloquent testimony to the truth of this statement.
The Together Foundation and the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements ( UNCHS ) worked as partners in 1995 to compile a "knowledge base" of Best Practices for Human Settlements information as submitted by communities from around the world
The Technical Advisory Committee selected Oujé-Bougoumou as one of the top initiatives to receive a Best Practices designation.
First presented at the United Nations Habitat II City Summit in 1996, the successful entries play an important role in identifying ways in which shared solutions can address issues such as poverty, access to land and clean water, population, shelter, and transportation.
Oujé-Bougoumou has been asked to have an exhibit at the world′s fair Expo2000, to be held in Hannover, Germany.
The International Advisory Board to Expo2000 felt that Oujé-Bougoumou exemplifies the objective of this world′s fair, which is the balancing of mankind, nature, and technology.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Award
In 1994, Oujé-Bougoumou received honourable mention from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation ( CMHC ) in a competition for housing innovations in the category of "Technology and Production". The award was presented in recognition of the installation of a biomass fuelled districts heating system and its impact on the local housing program.
Global Citizen Award
Oujé-Bougoumou received an award from the United Nations Association in 1995. The award, entitled the "Global Citizen" Award was presented at a special award ceremony held in Ottawa in recognition of Ouje-Bougoumou having built a community which was both environmentally and people-friendly. The presentation was made by special Undersecretary Gillian Martin Sorenson.