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Cree Nation Government

Grand Chief Billy Diamond – politician, businessman; born May 17, 1949 in Rupert House (now the Cree Nation of Waskaganish), QC; died on September 30 2010 in Waskaganish. A leading figure in Indigenous politics of the James Bay region of Quebec, he was a prime architect, negotiator, and signatory of the groundbreaking James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement. Diamond was also a Chairman of the Cree School Board and President of Air Creebec.

Billy Diamond was born and raised in the Cree Nation of Waskaganish. He grew up hunting and trapping with his family along  the Nottaway River. When he was seven years old, Diamond was sent to residential school in Moose Factory, ON. There, he was forced to cut his hair and speak English instead of Cree. Diamond described his experiences at that residential school as destructive to “my foundation years and my identity and my sense of belonging.”

Diamond spent his high school years at Shingwauk Residential School in Sault Ste. Marie, ON. Where he honed his leadership and public-speaking skills. Along with several other First Nations students, Diamond created the Indian Student Association at the school and was elected to the Executive Committee of the association. He was also its newsletter editor.

In the 1960s, Billy Diamond became Band Manager of Waskaganish and later became Chief from 1970-76. He was a founding member and first Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Crees of Quebec (1974-84) and was also Chairman of the Cree Regional Authority (established in 1975, now known as the Cree Nation Government), which administers the implementation of the agreement in relation to land, economic development and social services. From 1980-83 Diamond was involved in Canadian Constitutional negotiations and successfully fought for the inclusion of sections 25 and 35, which enshrine Indigenous rights.

Grand Chief Billy Diamond Scholarship

This award is available to Indigenous students who are attending post-secondary institutions in Canada and are enrolled in business, commerce, management, and/or leadership programs. Students can be enrolled in any year of a Bachelor or Master programs.

Awards Criteria

Awards Category: Post-Secondary
Deadlines: August 1, November 1, February 1
Program of Study: Business, Commerce, Management, and/or Leadership
Level of Study: Any year of a Bachelor or Master program
Indigenous Affiliation: Any