Cree Nation reaches sky-high with ‘landmark’ $100M Montreal skyscraper  

As of this writing, new, state-of-the-art condo complexes and skyscrapers loom over the corner of Robert-Bourassa Boulevard and Ottawa Street in Montreal. 

Come 2024, the Cree Nation in Quebec will have one of their own on the very same corner.

“The first time we presented the project, we had a different design,” explained Derrick Neeposh, president of Cree Regional Economic Enterprises Company Inc., better known as Creeco.

“We submitted it to mayor Plante of Montreal, and right away she pushed it away and said ‘this is very generic,’ you know? And I think that gave us more drive and motivation to say ‘okay, we’re going to build something unique and something iconic, and that’s what we came up with,” Neeposh added. 

Creeco and Montreal real estate titan COGIR recently unveiled the joint $100M project to be erected on a vacant commercial lot owned by the Cree Nation Government since 1995. 

Odea Montreal is the name of the 25-storey project with 435 planned residential units. 

The name “Odea” comes from the Cree word “Ode,” meaning canoe – a concept reflected in the design by renowned Indigenous architect Douglas Cardinal. 

“From design, to where we are today – it’s already an accomplishment on its own. Just having that creativity as part of the project,” according to Neeposh.  

In a statement, Mathieu Duguay, president and CEO of Cogir Real Estate, said he believes the Odea Montreal project will “become one of Montreal’s cultural and architectural landmarks.” 

“I am proud to see my nation’s contribution to the Montreal skyline with an innovative and forward-thinking project that will not only showcase the history of the Cree Nation, but more importantly will also create space for Indigenous organizations and entities,” Mandy Gull-Masty, grand chief of the Cree Nation government, said of the project. 

Gull-Masty also called the Odea Montreal development an “economic driving force” for the Cree Nation – and Neeposh agrees.  

“It really says who we are as a nation, the resilience we have.  We’ve been [in Montreal] doing business, and we want to continue being there. 

“I think the people misunderstand the amount of money we’ve spent in terms of getting services from the south [to the north],” Neeposh told APTN News. 

“So I think it’s time to reverse that trend and really look at generating the wealth from the south for the benefit of the north.” 

Cree Nation
A concept drawing of the building in downtown Montreal courtesy: Cogir Real Estate.

But there’s additional symbolism to the Odea Montreal project: the street where it will be built is named for Quebec politician Robert Bourassa, who infamously greenlit a billion-dollar hydroelectric project without obtaining consent from the Cree and Inuit in the James Bay area.  

A court ruling against Quebec eventually resulted in the signing of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement.

It’s a come-around moment because funds obtained through the signing of that agreement facilitated the creation of Creeco back in 1982.

“A street is just a street for us, but a building is more iconic, you know? And this building will display that,” Neeposh said. 

“Whatever the differences were, we’re past that, you know? We’re looking towards the future and setting up a landmark with a building of this magnitude – and the display and design of it.” 

“It’s going to be amazing.” 

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