MONTREAL -- The Quebec government and the Cree have signed an agreement on the long-term economic development of the Eeyou Istchee James Bay Territory.

The announcement was made in Montreal on Monday by Premier François Legault and Chairman of the Cree Nation Government Dr. Abel Bosum.

Calling it a "new chapter in the relationship of trust and collaboration that unites Quebec and the Cree," Legault referred to "ambitious socioeconomic development projects"

that "take advantage of Northern Québec's vast mining potential for the benefit of both our nations, in a spirit of respect for the environment, the territory and Indigenous values." 

Bosum said the project aims to transform the region's infrastructure and economy.

"The project will help to unlock the wealth of the region's varied natural resources and create jobs and business opportunities for the Cree and James Bay residents, while protecting the environment and wildlife," he said.

In the long term, the project has several stages, including the extension of the rail network, the electrification of certain industrial projects and the training of local labour.

Meanwhile, new protected wildlife areas will be identified.

"This balance is important. It is part of the long-term perspective that the Cree Nation Government has envisaged and reflects our desire to jointly build a greener, more prosperous and prouder Québec," said Legault in a statement.

The plan will be spread over 30 years.

"It paves the way to a bright future for our young people by giving them the necessary confidence to build their lives and start families in Eeyou Istchee," said Bosum.