First Nations: the CAQ and its “historically disappointing” record

First Nations: the CAQ and its “historically disappointing” record

The CAQ, from the refusal to recognize the existence of systemic racism to the adoption of Bill 96, here is the portrait of the “historically disappointing” record of the Legault government in terms of relations with the First Nations, drawn up by the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL).

In a press release published today, the AFNQL does not mince words to describe the “indifference”, “contempt” and “paternalism” of the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) towards the First Nations.

Respect for language and culture, children’s rights and discrimination, the Legault government has not delivered on any of these aspects and has shown not only arrogance, but also a flagrant lack of consideration for the realities of First Nations.

Ghislain Picard, Chief of the AFNQL

On the horizon of the next provincial elections, the AFNQL intends to make itself heard in the coming months. For her, respect for the fundamental rights of the First Nations depends on it.

“Four years of missed appointments”

The AFNQL points to various “setbacks on fundamental rights” that have been linked for almost four years. Prime Minister Legault, then freshly elected, had expressed his desire to multiply “nation-to-nation” agreements, as the press release recalls.

The Legault government boots have never followed the chops […] Unfortunately, we have witnessed four years of missed appointments.

Ghislain Picard, Chief of the AFNQL

However, the list drawn up by the AFNQL is long, starting with the recent adoption of Bill 96. The AFNQL considers the An Act respecting the official and common language of Quebec, French as a “historic setback”. According to her, the law “flouts” the exemption of Aboriginal communities in the application of the Charter of the French language.

The Legault government’s stubbornness in not recognizing systemic racism against First Nations has only made the situation worse. Coroner Kamel’s report surrounding the death of Joyce Echaquan, however, recommended such recognition.

The AFNQL also recalls that the Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs, Ian Lafrenière, had taken a position on this subject. He committed to include the notion of cultural safety in the Act of respecting health services and social services (LSSS), but this did not materialize.

“This spring, the government reneged on its word by renouncing to amend the LSSS in this sense,” declared the AFNQL.

The AFNQL also criticizes the government for contesting in the Supreme Court of Canada the jurisdiction of the First Nations in matters of child and family services. This position of the government counters the decision of the Quebec Court of Appeal and the recommendations of the Viens and Laurent commissions. In particular, they recognize the right to self-determination and autonomy in child and family services.

The Prime Minister’s Office declined to comment. That Minister Lafrenière has not yet responded to our request at the time of writing these lines.

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