The Sustainable Development Strategy: The Rights of the First Nations ignored



    WENDAKE, QC, Nov. 1 /CNW Telbec/ - The Assembly of the First Nations of
Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL) tabled today a memoir within the scope of
consultations on the Sustainable Development Strategy to the Commission des
transports et de l'environnement.
    Following, are a few excerpts of the memoir presented by the Chief of the
AFNQL, Mr. Ghislain Picard and the Grand Chief of the Anishnabeg Algonquin
Nation, Mr. Lucien Wabanonik :
    "Once again, the government of Quebec presents a strategy which totally
ignores the interests and the rights of the First Nations, even if it affects
them directly.
    The government Strategy on sustainable development affects one of the
most fundamental elements of the First Nations: the territory. In the analysis
of this strategy, it is important to acknowledge to the First Nations a
special and specific character, because the First Nations are not
interlocutors like others. They form distinct peoples which hold ancestral and
specific rights (the Courts use the Latin expression of "sui generis") over
the lands and its resources. These rights have been the object of a constant
evolution over the years. It is within this context that we must tackle the
analysis of this strategy. The First Nations are essential to the future of
Quebec. The members of the Quebec Parliament must realize this."

    The Legal Context

    "The First Nations of Quebec have never relinquished their titles and
their rights over their ancestral territories. Since 1973, the Supreme Court
of Canada reiterated on many occasions that the ancestral occupancy of the
territory by the First Nations confers to them, under the Canadian Law, a
title that is fundamental to the title of the Crown. Therefore, the Canadian
provinces do not hold, and have never held, exclusive rights on public lands.
Their ownership right is subordinate to the aboriginal title (or Indian title)
and to other ancestral rights.
    The 1982 Constitutional Act guarantees the ancestral rights of Aboriginal
peoples. These rights comprise the ancestral rights, including the aboriginal
title which recognizes to the First Nations, the right to use and occupy their
lands in exclusivity".
    "The Strategy on sustainable development does not reflect the interests
of the First Nations and does not meet the expectations of the First Nations,
as outlined in the Protocol of sustainable development of the First Nations.
This can be explained particularly by the fact that the government did not
consult with the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador. The current process
does not seem to contain a specific and proper consultation either.
    The AFNQL denounces the Interim Guide of Consultation and wishes to
remind the government that its obligation to consult the Aboriginal Peoples
has a meaning that goes way beyond a simple transmission of information.
    The AFNQL and all the Chiefs which compose the Assembly are hoping today,
that this presentation will promote a better attention compared to the one
given on all the other presentations made over the years. If it is the case,
Quebec can then allege to be out of a colonization policy, which under
different forms, continues to alienate the right to the development of the
First Nations. Otherwise, the government will expose itself to harsh judgments
for not having respected its legal and political obligations".

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




For further information:

For further information: Alain Garon, Communication Officer, AFNQL,
(418) 842-5020, Cellular: (418) 956-5720


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