MONTREAL, Feb. 20, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - The Assembly of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL) has filed yesterday (February 19 2014), an application for judicial review of the consultation process for the First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act. The AFNQL is therefore moving from words to action, considering that the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, Mr. Bernard Valcourt, did not respond to the invitation of the First Nations of Quebec to come to an agreement on a consultation process within the delay of thirty (30) days as set in a letter transmitted on December 20th 2013, by the Chief of the AFNQL, Mr. Ghislain Picard.
« After many attempts to be heard, which efforts remained totally ignored by Minister Valcourt, an application for judicial review was considered as a measure of last resort. We have decided to apply to the Federal Court so that the government complies with its constitutional obligation to consult and accommodate the First Nations of Quebec », stated Chief Picard.
By filing this Petition for judicial review, the AFNQL denounces the biased and superficial consultations, not complying with the obligations under the honour and the integrity of the Crown, more particularly the obligation to consult directly the First Nations concerned. Therefore, although the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) took part in the announcement of the federal government, in no way does this participation bind the First Nations of Quebec. It is up to each region, each territory affected by a treaty, and each First Nation to choose the path to follow and to be specifically consulted.
The Bill is Inadequate
In addition to opposing the consultation process, the First Nations of Quebec have raised many concerns about the content of the bill. In his letter to Minister Valcourt, the Chief of the AFNQL submits the three winning conditions that would help get the support of the First Nations of Quebec:
- The recognition and the respect for the jurisdiction, along with the control of the First Nations on education, by allowing the solutions of the First Nations to be implemented.
- Guarantee the necessary, adequate, equitable and stable funding for the education of the First Nations.
- A significant support to the teaching of languages and cultural values of the First Nations.
On the other hand, the announcement of February 7th by Prime Minister Harper of a financial commitment of 1,9 billion dollars accompanied by legislative measures constitute recycled promises and does not meet satisfactorily these three conditions. Some contested articles of the bill disseminated in October 2013 are maintained. « How can the Minister pretend that this bill will give the First Nations the control of their education, while imposing criteria and the model of School Boards, his bill does not allow us to develop our own criteria and our governance model? The one big change is a name change, and it is nothing more than a shameful cosmetic change », stated the Chief responsible for the Education portfolio within the AFNQL, Mr. Gilbert Whiteduck.
SOURCE: Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador
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