Making First Nations Youth a Priority - Concrete actions to put an end to the disparities

    QUEBEC, Feb. 19 /CNW Telbec/ - "The future of our people is dependent
upon our youth, who account for approximately 50% of our population", declared
the Chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL),
Mr. Ghislain Picard, during a press briefing that took place during the First
Nations Children and Youth Forum that is being held today, tomorrow and
Thursday, in Quebec. "The holding of this Forum, the establishment of a
supervision committee and the setting aside of places that are reserved for
First Nations in the Faculties of medicine are concrete measures that stem
directly from the Quebec First Nations Health and Social Services Blueprint,
which was launched last autumn" added Mr. Ghislain Picard.
    This Forum, which has brought together more than 300 interveners from the
Quebec First Nations and the Quebec network, provides an opportunity for the
relevant organisations and interveners to report on the situation, but also to
reflect together on the changes that must be made. It aims to facilitate
consultation with all the players involved in regards to the importance of
prioritizing the interventions among the First Nations children and youth in
order to close the gaps that separate them from the Canadian general
population. "The grave data that we are aware of reflects the actual situation
that the children and youth in our communities are experiencing on a daily
basis, whether it is regarding health, education or social conditions, and
demands radical change and resounding actions," declared Ms. Guylaine Gill,
Executive Director of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Health and
Social Services Commission (FNQLHSSC). She also added that "The priorities set
in the Health and Social Services Blueprint 2007-2017, Closing the
Gaps...Accelerating Change, that was adopted unanimously by the Chiefs of
Quebec, are unequalled and place the well-being of children front and centre."

    Setting up of a supervision committee

    Among the Forum's speakers, Mr. Stanley Vollant, a doctor from the Innu
Nation, as well as Mr. Serge Bouchard, an anthropologist and speaker, both
accepted to sit on the experts committee that has the mandate to produce a
periodical report on the health status and quality of life of First Nations as
well as on progress in regards to the Blueprint's implementation. This
committee will also be composed of Ms. Marcelline Kanapé, Ms. Andrée Lajoie,
Ms. Landon Pearson, Mr. Aurélien Gill, Mr. Evans Villeneuve, Mr. Christian
Sioui, Mr. Yves Morin, Mr. Jean-Guy Whiteduck and Mr. James Papatie.

    Places in Faculties of medicine set aside for First Nations students

    After many months of discussion between First Nations, who are
represented by the AFNQL and the FNQLHSSC, and the Université Laval, who acted
as the negotiating partner on behalf of the universities, Dr. Evens Villeneuve
is proud to announce that starting in September of 2008, four places will be
set aside each year for First Nations and Inuit throughout all the Faculties
of medicine in Quebec: Université Laval, Université de Sherbrooke, Université
de Montréal and McGill University. The students will benefit from conditions
that will facilitate their admission into the medicine program.

    Closing the Gaps

    We must not lose sight of the fact that First Nations are confronted with
significant health problems as well as living conditions that are well below
that of the general Quebec population. "There is an urgent need to close the
gaps," stated Dr. Stanley Vollant.
    The gravity of the statistics, that were confirmed during the First
Nations Regional Longitudinal Health Survey (2002), Quebec Region, calls for
all of society to undertake concrete and swift actions, which are supported by
the will of First Nations to continue to fully exist. The answer is the
10-year Blueprint, presented by the FNQLHSSC, which proposes solutions that
are adapted to the real problems that First Nations are experiencing.

    About the AFNQL

    The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador is the regional
organisation that regroups the Chiefs of the First Nations of Quebec and

    About the FNQLHSSC

    The role of the FNQLHSSC is to assist the First Nations and Inuit
communities and organisations in Quebec and Labrador in the defence,
maintenance, and exercising of their inherent rights regarding health and
social services, as well as to assist them in the achievement and development
of their programs.

For further information:

For further information: Chantal Cleary, Communications Officer,
FNQLHSSC, (418) 842-1540, (418) 558-5008; Alain Garon, Communications Officer,
AFNQL, (418) 842-5020

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