First Nations Socio-Economic Forum - Follow-up by the Government of Canada, the Government of Quebec and the First Nations

    QUEBEC CITY, June 16 /CNW Telbec/ - Following their commitments,
representatives from federal and provincial governments and a number of First
Nations Chiefs have been meeting in the Quebec Region over the past two days
to follow up on the First Nations Socio-Economic Forum, which took place in
Mashteuiatsh last October.
    The meeting was chaired by the Chief of the Assembly of the First Nations
of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL), Ghislain Picard, and co-chaired by the
Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor
for Métis and Non-Status Indians, Jim Prentice, and the Minister responsible
for Canadian Intergovernmental Affairs and Aboriginal Affairs,
Benoît Pelletier.
    Also participating were: Quebec Premier Jean Charest; the Grand Chief of
the Atikamekw Nation, Eva Ottawa, the Grand Chief of the Anishnabeg Tribal
Council; Lucien Wabanonik, the Chief of the Community of Matimekush-Lac John,
Thaddée André; the Chief of the Community of Mashteuiatsh, Gilbert Dominique;
the Chief of the Community of Kawawachikamach; the Chiefs representing the
Huron-Wendat Nation, René Gros-Louis and Benoît Sioui, and the Chief of the
Community of Ekuanitshit, Jean-Charles Piétacho.
    "The First Nations Socio-Economic Forum enabled us to establish shared
priorities for the development of the Aboriginal Nations. It also gave us an
opportunity to affirm our willingness to establish new mutual solidarities.
Today, we have been able to take stock of the commitments that were made at
Mashteuiatsh and what has been done since," said Mr Charest.
    The discussions focused in part on progress made since the First Nations
Socio-Economic Forum. The AFNQL presented its report and all parties confirmed
their desire to continue working so that concrete results are achieved as soon
as possible.
    The subject of youth protection was also central to the discussions.
"First Nations governments suggest that the Government of Canada and the
Government of Quebec join their efforts immediately to address the very
pressing issue that currently exists with regard to the placement of First
Nations children. Preventive measures must be strengthened and everything
possible done to ensure support for the children and their families", said
Chief Ghislain Picard.
    The Government of Canada, the Government of Quebec and the First Nations
are committed to continue working in partnership to find concrete solutions to
the serious problems faced by Aboriginal communities with regard to youth
protection, especially in terms of prevention, rapid response measures and the
placement of children in permanent homes. A prevention-based approach ensures
stability for children, and the effectiveness of this approach for the
delivery of child services for First Nations has been demonstrated elsewhere
in Canada.
    "Children are the future of the First Nations, and it is our duty to work
together to ensure they have a secure environment. I am truly proud of the
commitment made by all parties here today and I am convinced that this
partnership will make a real difference for First Nations' youth in Quebec",
explained Mr Prentice.
    "In that context, our hope is that the Government of Quebec and the First
Nations of Quebec look to the tripartite model implemented in Alberta, which
is already showing concrete results, and tailor it to the situation in
Quebec", added Mr Prentice.
    Land and resources were also discussed. "It was clearly established
during the Socio-Economic Forum that the development of our communities
requires access to land and natural resources. The time has come to take
action. The First Nations reiterate that they are key to development of the
regions", said AFNQL Chief Ghislain Picard.
    The Government of Quebec made a proposal that talks on this issue be
better supported. "The issue of land and resources is a key concern in our
relations with the First Nations. We have agreed on a method for working
co-operatively to deal with these matters, so that we can learn better ways of
living together", added Mr Pelletier.
    At the close of the meeting, the parties reiterated their desire to
develop new partnerships and their willingness to work assiduously toward
their common objectives.
    -%SU: SOC
    -%RE: 37,41,44

For further information:

For further information: Luc Fortin, Press Secretary, Office of Minister
Benoît Pelletier, (418) 646-5950; Deirdra McCracken, Press Secretary, Office
of the Honourable, Jim Prentice, (819) 997-0002; Alain Garon, Information and
Communications Officer, Office of the Chief of the AFNQL, (418) 842-5020

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