Catholic and Anglican missionaries controlled schooling in the James Bay area until the 1960s, when the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development took on a greater role. The Cree School Board was established in 1975 as a result of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement. Its purpose was to serve the Cree people living in Eeyou Istchee and to empower them to take control of their own education system as well as protect their language, culture and traditional pursuits. In 1978, the Cree School Board was officially constituted under the Education Act for Cree, Inuit and Naskapi Native Persons.

The early years of the Cree School Board were challenging: it inherited 3 school systems that needed 
to be combined, government funding was insufficient, there were housing and school facility shortages and a student population that was growing faster than anticipated. New negotiations with the governments led to increased funding.

Today, the CSB has the exclusive mandate to provide students residing in Eeyou Istchee with pre-school, elementary and secondary education and to support them in their pursuit of post-secondary education, adult education and vocational training.

Since 1975, the CSB has come 
a long way; it now controls and provides educational services to more than 4,600 students at the primary, secondary and adult levels, and support services at the post-secondary level.