WENDAKE, QC, April 22, 2016 /CNW Telbec/ - "From the very beginning of his term, from his initial meeting with the AFNQL Chiefs, Premier Couillard made a clear commitment to develop with First Nations a true government-to-government relationship. The AFNQL welcomed this commitment with satisfaction. "Unfortunately, these words were not followed by action", stated Ghislain Picard, Chief of the AFNQL.
"What happened with Premier Couillard's commitment to discuss with us, on a government-to-government basis, the issue of revenue sharing and the exploitation of lands never surrendered by First Nations? What happened with Premier Couillard's commitment to discuss with us, on a government-to-government basis, the issue of meaningful consultation mechanisms to replace the one the province has been trying to impose on us for a decade?", asks Ghislain Picard.
The AFNQL has no choice but to state that these past two years under the Couillard government resulted in unfulfilled commitments made by the Premier and that no progress has been made in the relationship between First Nations and the provincial government, in fact its represents a major setback. There has been setbacks in the living conditions of First Nations, particularly for our women and our young girls; a setback for a harmonious and equitable development of the economy, not only for First Nations but for the Quebec population as well; setbacks in the political relationship with First Nations for an essential reconciliation with the provincial government.
As a result of the denunciations by Indigenous women from the Val-d'Or region, a formal request was made by the Assembly for an independent inquiry into the relationship between First Nations and police services, and this has been dismissed by Premier Couillard. He prefers to leave it to the federal government, despite the direct and clear responsibility of his government.
Representations by First Nations, with respect to their titles and recognized rights on topics such as the Energy East pipeline, will not be taken into consideration by the Couillard government. The Minister of Environment, the Minister of Forestry and the Minister of Energy and Resources follow the pattern set by their Premier, in the denial by the provincial government's obligations towards all First Nations.
"Why is Premier Couillard maintaining this backward attitude towards First Nations? Why refuse to live up to his responsibilities as a provincial Premier and hide behind the federal government? Why do other premiers, elected more recently crossed more significant milestones with First Nations within their jurisdictions while the government of Quebec backs out or stalls?
After two years of the Couillard Government, the Chiefs of the AFNQL are entitled to ask these questions and expect that the Premier will finally come to task, with them", concluded Ghislain Picard.
About the AFNQL
The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador is the political organization of 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: firstname.lastname@example.org, Cell.: 418-580-4442