MONTREAL, Nov. 4, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - At the conclusion of a two-hour meeting with Quebec's Premier, Philippe Couillard, the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) maintains its call for an independent public commission of inquiry on the relationships between police authorities and the members of First Nations in Quebec.
The Chiefs who gathered this morning for this important event welcomed some of the measures announced by the government of Quebec, notably the direct assistance announced to certain agencies in Val‑d'Or helping victims. Yet, they expressed disappointment on not receiving a satisfactory answer to their primary request. Noting the long history of broken relationships between Sûreté du Québec and First Nations communities, the Chief of the AFNQL, Ghislain Picard, insisted on the fact that "the solutions and the means which need to take place must be matching with the challenges we face. There can be no compromise on the safety of our members", stated Chief Picard.
The Chiefs stressed the importance of responding to the feelings of mistrust, anger and deep concern that prevail in First Nations communities, particularly those affected by the latest revelations. "We ask that justice be served for our women, for our children, for the future of our youth. We are facing one of the greatest challenges of our societies. It needs to be addressed with a lot of effort and energy", stated Ms. Salomée McKenzie, Chief of Lac-Simon First Nation.
"We are talking about human lives here, stated Ms. Adrienne Anichinapéo, Chief of the Council of the Anicinapek of Kitcisakik. We must be in agreement and we need to work on an equal footing. Our existence can no longer be ignored. The time for change is now."
The Chiefs applauded the support of the Quebec Premier for the request made to the federal government for a national commission of inquiry on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women. However, they emphasized the importance of also holding a Quebec Commission of Inquiry.
"There is an urgency to protect and support the victims. It's also important to conduct a provincial judicial investigation which will allow us to get to the bottom of what happened to women who are the victims of police abuse. We do not want a political process, and we do not want to limit ourselves to the national inquiry that the federal government will implement, which inquiry concerns the fate of murdered or missing women. We will pursue the inquiry from here on and are willing to work with Quebec", noted the Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Cree, Dr. Matthew Coon-Come.
"We have a duty to get to the bottom of things. We must not forget the victims and the communities directly affected. We demand justice: justice for the family of Sindy Ruperthouse, justice for women victims, justice for our communities", declared for his part, the Chief of the Abitibiwinni First Nation, Mr. David Kistabish, who proposed to maintain a high-level dialogue process between Quebec and the First Nations.
As to the appointment by the Government of Quebec of Fannie Lafontaine, as independent observer, to monitor the police inquiry of Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM), the AFNQL expressed disappointment that it was announced prior to the AFNQL Chiefs meeting this morning and that it was not subject to an agreement with the AFNQL Chiefs.
About the AFNQL
The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador is the political organization of 43 Chiefs of the First Nations in Quebec and Labrador. www.apnql-afnql.com
SOURCE Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador
For further information: Mélanie Vincent: [email protected], Cell.: 418-580-4442