The Cree Research and Development Institute (CRDI) was created in 1997 as a special project of the Cree First Nation of Waswanipi. It received funding from the Canadian Forest Service as the only Aboriginal-run Model Forest in the Canadian Model Forest Network. The Cree Research and Development Institute brought together all stakeholders in a vast territory of northern Quebec in a novel partnership that allowed parties to air differences, find common ground and pursue research on better ways to manage the forests sustainably.
The Cree Research and Development Institute was based in the Quebec Cree community most affected by forestry. It built bridges in a challenging environment where political conflict and legal action had threatened development. The Model Forest was for a time one of the few forums where government authorities and industry could meet with Quebec Cree officials to discuss issues on the ground.
Out of this innovative partnership emerged groundbreaking research that married Western science and Cree traditional knowledge. It brought new understanding of the needs of the moose in the boreal forest and forced officials to consider new methods of protecting this vital species.
The CRDI also created a pioneering consultation and land-use mapping process—called Ndoho Istchee, or "Cree Hunting Ground." It integrates Crees into the forest-management process and is intelligible to all sides. It allows Crees to translate their traditional cultural land use into language that forestry planners and officials can take into account. Elements of the new process have influenced the implementation of the Adapted Forestry Regime that Crees and Quebec have created in northern Quebec to co-manage the forests. Ndoho Istchee is also easily adaptable to any Aboriginal community that faces development issues.
Since 2007, when the supporting program ended, the community has been working to create a new entity called the Cree Research and Development Institute. It would pick up where the Model Forest progam left off and strive to bring a Cree voice to development decisions.
General Manager: Norman Wapachee
The Administration Building Oudaa (Upstairs)