The First Nations insist on co-managing the natural resources - "Quebec Cannot Ignore our Rights" - Ghislain Picard



    QUEBEC CITY, Oct. 22 /CNW Telbec/ - The Chief of the Assembly of First
Nations of Quebec and Labrador, Ghislain Picard, accompanied by a dozen of
Fellow Chiefs, issued a warning to the government of Quebec: "there cannot be
any development without the participation of the First Nations that have never
transferred their rights and titles, as well as those which have treaty
rights".
    He made this statement before a Parliamentary Commission on the renewal
of the forest regime. "Quebec is celebrating its 400th anniversary; we are
celebrating 10,000 years of presence", reminded Chief Picard, emphasizing that
the First Nations of Quebec have never relinquished their rights on the
territory. "Unlike other regions of Canada, here, there was no signing of
treaties, there was no transfer of rights and there was no relinquishment of
our titles and rights. Therefore, the whole of the Quebec territory has always
been affected by ancestral rights of the First Nations. The government of
Quebec cannot ignore these rights", stated the Chief of the AFNQL, thus
reacting to the recent announcement of the Plan Nord, by the Premier of
Quebec.
    The Chiefs each came in turn to submit questions to the members of the
commission, and they emphasized their desire to see the government of Quebec
adopt an entirely new attitude towards relations with the First Nations. The
First Nations demand a cohabitation of the territory that is respectful of
their rights, and which necessarily goes through a co-management of the
natural resources.

    Out of the state of dependency

    To the Chief of the AFNQL, this urgent call for the recognition of their
rights is closely linked to the socioeconomic stakes of the First Nations.
"The debate on the rights is not a hypothetical or legal question; it's a
matter of survival. The governments of Canada and Quebec want to maintain the
First Nations in a state of dependency and then occupy their territory. In
2008, is it possible to get out of the XVIIth century and put an end to
colonialism?", concluded Ghislain Picard.

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




For further information:

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


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