The North for all - Leading further away from a nation-to-nation relationship

WENDAKE, QC, May 8, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - "Le Nord pour Tous (The North for all), announced yesterday by the Quebec government, risks taking us in the opposite direction from the nation-to-nation relationship we were seeking." It is in these terms that AFNQL Chief Ghislain Picard qualifies the rapprochement efforts made by the government of Ms. Marois. "We were expecting a breath of new life in our relations with the Quebec government following the last election, but I see that we are confronted by the same attitude held by the previous government: the First Nations are an afterthought", added Chief Picard.

"The government released new policy orientations today concerning development of the North. Who was consulted in the work to establish this new Plan? What role does it give to First Nations? How does this renewed appetite for the natural resources of the North reflect the premier's signals of openness towards First Nations? These are just some of the questions we have as to whether Quebec really does want, at the political level, to bring about rapprochement with the First Nations within the context of a nation-to-nation relationship.

The Summit on Territories and Resources, held last December 3, 2012 with Premier Pauline Marois in attendance, defined four issues: royalties, co-management of development, territorial protection, and consultation and accommodation, to allow First Nations to play a greater role in natural resources development, rather than submit passively to the development going on around them. A few meetings were held to set a process in motion to ensure better account would be taken of our concerns, but the Marois government has just fallen short of the most crucial issue of all, by failing to consult with  our peoples", said the AFNQL Chief, voicing his indignation.

"Everyone appears to have been consulted: the mining companies, the money markets, the environmental groups and the municipalities, but we have the impression that First Nations, which continue to hold rights and title over these territories, are being considered as the party with the least at stake", stressed Chief Picard, visibly frustrated by this turn of events. "We placed a great deal of trust in a political process that should have put an end to this type of action where our issues are continually avoided, but it has done nothing of the sort. We continue to be systematically bypassed."

"The time has come to take stock of the progress if any, we made since the Summit on Territories and Resources. The AFNQL Chiefs will go collectively reflect on that and will make the appropriate decisions. This is the stage we are at now", concluded AFNQL Chief Ghislain Picard.

About the AFNQL

The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador is the political organization bringing together 43 chiefs of the First Nations in Quebec and Labrador. www.apnql-afnql.com.

SOURCE: ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS OF QUEBEC AND LABRADOR

For further information:

Mélanie Vincent (melanievincent21@yahoo.ca)
Cell.: 418-580-4442

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ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS OF QUEBEC AND LABRADOR

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