Within the Scope of the National Day of Action the First Nations of Quebec Open their Doors and wish to Create Bonds of Friendship



    WENDAKE, QC, June 18 /CNW/ - Following the example of other First Nations
across Canada, the First Nations of Quebec wish to take advantage of the June
29 "National Day of Action" to heighten public awareness on the main stakes
they face on a daily basis. This consciousness-raising effort will begin on
June 21 with the "National Aboriginal Day", during which the AFNQL is
organizing an important activity of public awareness and exchanges, under the
theme "Open House on First Nations".
    The event, which will be taking place in Montreal will gather
representatives of several organizations who strive within different sectors
of activity in Quebec. It is meant to be an interactive and convivial event,
which will allow the participants to exchanges views on the various issues
which affect the First Nations. Among others, the participants are invited to
widen their knowledge on the First Nations issues, the myths and realities
which pertain to us, as well as contemporary life, its stakes and challenges.
"I am convinced that this reunion will strengthen certain alliances created at
the Socioeconomic Forum of Mashteuiatsh and will help create new ones. Most of
all, these alliances will help us promote a better understanding of our
realities, in the hope that the latter will be better acknowledged", states
Ghislain Picard, Chief of the AFNQL.
    The AFNQL will take advantage of the opportunity to unveil a Political
Declaration adopted at the Assembly of Chiefs, held on June 12, 13 and 14, in
Quebec City. This Political Declaration is to be considered as an answer to
the arrival of new groups which pretend to represent the aboriginal interests,
and also a reminder of certain fundamental principles advocated by the Chiefs
of the First Nations of Quebec.

    National Day of Action (June 29)

    The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL) are
supporting the AFN, the organizing body of this day. The "National Day of
Action" is an opportunity for all Canadians to unite in a joint effort, to
call for better living conditions on behalf of the First Nations. We cannot
move any further without the active participation of the federal government,
and Canada must work in concerted efforts with us in order to resolve certain
fundamental problems. Strong First Nations means a stronger Canada, for the
greater benefit of all Canadians.
    The AFNQL and many First Nations of Quebec will also take part in the
"National Day of Action" on June 29th, by temporarily slowing down the traffic
on different main roads of the Quebec road network. "Our goal is not to
blockage roads, but rather to take the time to hand over information to
motorists, in an effort to inform them about our stakes, particularly on the
issues of lands and natural resources", stated Chief Picard.
    The AFNQL wish to take advantage of this special day to remind the
population that a vast portion of territory in the province of Quebec, which
was occupied by the First Nations for centuries has never been the object of
treaties. These ancestral lands, as we speak, are still part of the First
Nations property rights, on which they enjoy the privilege of inherent rights
that are protected by the Canadian Constitution.
    "For over 400 years, Quebecers and the First Nations have been sharing
this territory without any treaty being agreed upon and without a true
co-habitation that is respectful of our ancestral rights. This situation is
not favorable to the creation of harmonious relations between the two
communities, explains Ghislain Picard. It is therefore most urgent that the
governments address this fundamental issue at the risk of seeing the relations
constantly deteriorate."
    These public activities of the First Nations demonstrate a feeling of
frustration that is not directed towards the Quebec population, but towards
the governments. Instead, the First Nations are hoping to develop new
alliances and bonds of sincere friendship with their Quebec neighbors, because
the future of the First Nations and of their relations with the State is a
matter that concerns not only the governments, but the society as a whole.

    Peaceful actions

    The AFNQL insists on the fact that the actions of June 29th will be
peaceful and will be an event where respect and friendship will dominate. Any
negative actions which could be initiated by certain groups will be
categorically denounced by the AFNQL.

    The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador is the regional
organization representing 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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