WENDAKE, QC, July 23, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - Here is the text of an open letter by Ghislain Picard, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Québec and Labrador.
Do any of you know who Terry Lalo is? Probably not. And you will never have the chance to know him either. Terry died a few years ago. He was sixteen years old Innu youth. Terry and a few policemen were at the wrong place at the wrong time. Terry died at the hospital a few weeks later. Things got out of control. But the system took care of the case. To take action against the people responsible? To protect them? I don't know.
Last week, in Unamen Shipu on the North Shore, another Innu and a few policemen were at the wrong place at the wrong time. Things got out of control again. The system is already taking care of everything: internal investigation, silence.
First Nations Elders, women and youth, in their communities or cities, are scared. They are scared of things getting out of control again. It is not normal. It is not acceptable.
Policemen and policewomen have a very difficult job, and the work conditions are often difficult as well. The vast majority does very well. I tip my hat to them. Truly.
What concerns me very much though, is that when a policeman or policewoman lets things get out of control, when he or she forgets the professionalism, training and advice received, this angry individual returns to being a product of a society. What has this society taught him or her about First Nations? The question must be asked and, more importantly, the answer must be found promptly.
The various governments that have succeeded each other in Québec over the last twenty years have all talked about an action plan against racism and discrimination against First Nations. The current government seems determined to act. All the better. We will see with time. In Ottawa, they keep their eyes shut and put a lot of efforts into keeping them shut, as in the case of the dozens of First Nations, Inuit or Métis women who have gone missing.
In memory of Terry and all the others, for those who are scared, who are hurt by the way others look at them, we must act together now against racism and discrimination.
SOURCE: Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador
Mélanie Vincent (email@example.com)
Cell.: 418 580-4442