After the apologies of Prime Minister Harper, the First Nations of Quebec demand concrete actions



    MONTREAL, June 11 /CNW Telbec/ - The Chiefs of the First Nations of
Quebec and Labrador, gathered at a regular Assembly, in Montreal, took notice
of the apologies pronounced by the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper,
for the harm caused to the victims of residential schools, commonly known as
"Indian residential schools". After a minute of silence observed for the whole
of concerned families and communities, the Chief of the Assembly of the First
Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL), read an official declaration.
    "If the government does not adopt concrete measures, especially towards
our youths, its apologies would prove meaningless" stated Chief Picard, who
was accompanied by several other Chiefs having attended residential schools.
    "The victims of residential schools are not only those who lived there.
Many persons suffered and are still suffering, even if they never attended
these places. Pain, hatred, anger and lack of understanding are transmitted
from one generation to the other" further stated Chief Picard.

    About the AFNQL

    The Assembly of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador is the regional
organization which regroups the Chiefs of the First Nations of Quebec and
Labrador.

    A copy of the AFNQL Declaration is available at: www.apnql-afnql.com


    APOLOGIES FROM THE PRIME MINISTER FOR THE HARM CAUSED BY RESIDENTIAL
    SCHOOLS

    DECLARATION OF THE AFNQL CHIEF

    June 11, 2008

    Today, the prime Minister of Canada presented his apologies to the
survivors of residential schools, for the abuses they suffered. These abuses
are a known fact and it certainly deserves apologies from the Canadian
government.
    More than 15 000 persons of the First Nations of Quebec went through this
tragic period; they were dragged away from their family, as early as 7 years
of age, then taken to a residential school, where they had to live ten months
a year. The clear and admitted objective was to assimilate the young natives
to the Canadian society. The method was categorical and cruel. The physical
punishments were frequent and at times, reached unacceptable proportions. Many
even lost their lives there.
    Very quickly, the authorities of residential schools succeeded to instill
in these children a feeling of shame for having been born from a First Nation,
for being what they are. Their parents also developed a feeling of shame and
disarray.
    The residential schools left major scars. Its devastating effects are
perceptible in many communities.
    The victims of the residential schools are not only those who lived
there. Many persons suffered and are still suffering, even if they never
attended these places. Pain, hatred, anger and lack of understanding are
transmitted from one generation to the other.
    Is there a need to remind that the residential schools are part of a
comprehensive strategy of assimilation, whose master piece is the Indian Act,
a law which is still in force today? The values behind the system of
residential schools are very much present today in the actions of the Canadian
government who has been trying all this time, to control all the angles of our
way of life, from birth to death, not to mention the education aspect.
    The First Nations of Quebec and Labrador are wondering how the prime
minister can apologize for the scandal of residential schools, while totally
ignoring the crisis situations which prevail at this very moment, and which
result from the same policy having justified the creation of residential
schools.
    How is it possible to justify, for example, the chronic under-funding of
First Nations education, the key to the future of our youth? How is it
possible to justify the under-funding of our social services? How is it
possible to ignore the large number of children who are placed away from their
community, because there is no prevention service within the communities? Our
communities are suffering major problems, which have a direct link with the
scandal of residential schools. Yet, the government is not providing the
resources required to counter the crisis situation. It still refuses to grant
our communities the sums comparable to those of the rest of the population.
While Canada ranks 4th on the Human Development Index, our First Nations are
at the 68th rank.
    Is the prime minister also apologizing for this situation?
    Most of all, today, we invite the Canadian government to act concretely.
    If the government does not adopt concrete measures, especially towards
our youths, its apologies will prove meaningless.




For further information:

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


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