WENDAKE, QC, May 9 /CNW Telbec/ - The Chief of the Assembly of First
Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL), Ghislain Picard, will not
participate in the unveiling of the "Plan Nord", today in Lévis. "I
refuse to participate in a process which does not yet adequately meet
the expectations of all concerned First Nations," he said.
Chief Picard particularly deplores the lack of genuine consultation with
some First Nations, which are simply left aside in this process which
will nevertheless have major impacts on their rights. "How can the
Government launch the Plan Nord without having tried to obtain the
consent of all First Nations involved? This process is incomplete and
very disappointing", he says.
The AFNQL particularly wishes to recall that under the Canadian
Constitution and the Supreme Court decisions, the Government of Quebec
has an obligation to consult and accommodate all First Nations affected
by the Plan Nord. It must also respect the obligations of the UN
Declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples which Canada has
recently endorsed. In particular, article 32 of the Declaration
stipulates that " States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with
the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative
institutions in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior
to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and
other resources, particularly in connection with the development,
utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources." "In
other words, we do not consult First Nations as we consult a Chamber of
commerce or a municipality", states Ghislain Picard.
Breach of the commitments
Chief Picard recalled that Jean Charest has still not fulfilled his
commitments taken in his 2003 election for the consideration of the
land rights of non-Treaty First Nations. "In 2003, when signing the
mutual political agreement, Jean Charest promised to discuss the issues
affecting the territory and the development of resources. In 2006, at
the First Nations socioeconomic Forum, he reiterated his commitment to
establish relations respectful of our territorial rights. However, the
Premier never upheld his promises and continues to deny our ancestral
rights. How can we believe him today, when he again promises to take
into account First Nations in the implementation of the Plan Nord? ",
questions Ghislain Picard.
"The Government of Quebec has not only the obligation to take into
account the rights of all First Nations affected by the Plan Nord, but
it also has the responsibility to engage in true dialogue with all
First Nations in Quebec, including subjects like wealth-sharing,
co-management and royalties. I am still waiting for a phone call from
Jean Charest," concluded Chief Picard.
About the AFNQL
The AFNQL is the regional organization regrouping the 43 Chiefs of the
First Nations of Quebec and Labrador. For information: www.apnql-afnql.com.
SOURCE ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS OF QUEBEC AND LABRADOR
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