Adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples - The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador exposes the Conservative Government's stand on this issue



    WENDAKE, QC, Sept. 12 /CNW Telbec/ - On the eve of the United Nations
General Assembly's historical vote on the Declaration on the Rights of
Indigenous Peoples, the Chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and
Labrador, Mr. Ghislain Picard, would like to acknowledge the importance of the
event and send a last-ditch appeal to the Conservative Government. "Adoption
of this Declaration will mark a new era in the fight led by Indigenous people
throughout the world for the recognition of their rights. If it votes against
this Declaration, the Conservative Government will bring dishonour and
worldwide humiliation upon the Canadian population as a whole", declared
Mr. Picard.
    This Declaration constitutes a dramatic advance in the protection of
First Nations' basic rights and fundamental freedoms. It deals at the same
time with collective and individual rights as well as cultural, political and
identity-related rights such as the right to be consulted, to own land and the
right to relief. It also provides for the right of access to just and
equitable proceedings for the expeditious settlement of disputes according to
the traditions, values and customs of the Indigenous people concerned.
    However, since the Conservatives have taken office, the Government of
Canada's position has been inconsistent with Canada's previous positions and
its long history of championing human rights around the world. "While we
believe we live in a democratically advanced country, the Canadian Government
refuses to support the Declaration and vote for it. Up to now, the
Conservative Government has displayed a disappointingly closed mind. I hope it
will have changed position by tomorrow and will vote in favour of the adoption
of the Declaration. Otherwise, its gesture will constitute a denial of our
rights very revealing of the kind of relations it wishes to maintain with the
Aboriginal people of Canada" added Chief Picard.

    Quebec groups' strong support

    On the other hand, the Assembly of First Nations would like to thank the
2000-odd persons who supported its claims by signing a "Declaration in Support
of the Adoption of the UN Declaration" that has been passed around Quebec for
the past several weeks. These people represent about a hundred groups
distributed throughout Quebec such as Amnesty International, Rights and
Democracy, the Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ), the Confédération des
syndicats nationaux (CSN) and the Fédération des femmes du Québec among
others.
    The AFNIQL would also like to acknowledge and commend the participation
of the Parti québécois' Aboriginal elected member, Alexis Wawanoloath, in the
Walk for the Adoption of the Declaration that was held in Montreal last
September 7.

    Please note that Ghislain Picard will be available for interviews all day
long on Thursday, September 13.

    The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador is the regional
organization that represents the Chiefs of the First Nations of Quebec and
Labrador.




For further information:

For further information: Alain Garon, Information and Communications
Officer, AFNQL, (418) 842-5020, cell.: (418) 956-5720


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