Bill respecting family homes situated on First Nation reserves: "Paternalist
Vision" denounced by AFNQL

WENDAKE, QC, May 15 /CNW Telbec/ - "Once again the Canadian Government has chosen to ignore our rights, proceed without real consultation and by unilaterally imposing its paternalist vision" stated Mr. Ghislain Picard, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, in response to the decision made by the Conservative Government to go forward with Bill C-8 respecting family homes situated on First Nation reserves and matrimonial interests and rights.

The AFNQL is totally opposed to the proposed legislation and does not support the opposition parties that would like to request the Bill be referred to the Aboriginal Affairs Committee. This Bill is incompatible with fundamental international human right standards and the constitutional obligations of the government towards the First Nations. "This Bill is a flagrant example of the Conservative Government's contempt for our rights, particularly, the rights recognized in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Bill breaches not only the spirit of the apology issued by the Federal Government on June 11, 2008, but also the very notion of "free and enlightened consent" which is the basis for the respect that underlies the trust that is at the heart of relationships between the First Nations and the Government of Canada" explained Chief Picard.

The Bill respecting family homes situated on First Nation reserves proposes to authorize a First Nation to adopt laws concerning "the use, occupation and possession of family homes on First Nation reserves and the division of the value of any interests or rights held by the spouses or common-law partners in or to structures and lands on reserves". For members of First Nations living in remote regions, it is very difficult to gain access or redress from provincial courts.

The AFNQL also wishes to point out that Aboriginal Women's Associations from across Canada have also spoken out against the proposed Bill and its shortcomings. A 500 page report commissioned by the Federal Government to determine the position of Aboriginal women was completely ignored. "It is clear that the Federal Government is pursuing an agenda that is at odds with the interests of First Nation Women" stated Ghislain Picard.

The AFNQL would prefer that any rights concerning family homes and matrimonial property be defined in accordance with First Nations values and tradition rather than in accordance with federal or provincial rules.

Numerous national and international reports, including United Nations reports, have focused on these issues and consistently call on Canada to adopt concrete measures to remedy such unacceptable situations that are current among First Nations.

The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL) is a regional organization consisting of the First Nations Chiefs of Quebec and Labrador.

SOURCE Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador

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

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