WENDAKE, QC, April 29, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - A group of Chiefs from the First Nations of Quebec-Labrador, accompanied by the Chief of the AFNQL, Ghislain Picard, met this morning with the Leader of the Official Opposition in Ottawa, Mr. Thomas Mulcair.
The Chiefs of First Nations would like to receive the support of the Official Opposition in regards to Bill C-33, a bill that the Harper government wants to force on them, and which concerns First Nations education. By relying on a joint council, as suggested by the Bill on First Nations Education, Minister Valcourt cunningly trying to avoid consultation with First Nations' leaders.
"The government Bill C-33 without meaningfully consulting with the First Nations of Quebec-Labrador, accommodating their concerns, or respecting their rights, affirmed Chief Picard. The Bill itself is another example of this government's disregard for its ongoing constitutional obligation to consult: it only requires the Minister to consult a joint council of experts that he would appoint, not First Nations. It's sneaky and dishonourable."
"Bill C-33 is suggesting that it will improve the services offered to our children, while giving us control over our education. In reality, this strengthens the control of the federal government, while at the same time allowing it to escape its responsibility. This is the essence of Minister Bernard Valcourt's objective", states AFNQL Chief, Ghislain Picard.
"We need the support of the Leader of the Official Opposition and all the opposition parties in Ottawa to try and make this stubborn government and its Aboriginal Affairs Minister, listen to reason. Once again, this Conservative government claims to be the only one to hold the truth. The Conservatives rejected our years of reports, consultations and mostly the efforts of the First Nations to ensure a good education to our children, to impose its own regressive views. Our children deserve better than that", states Chief Picard with indignation.
Moreover, before the evidence of a joint approach involving the AFN and the federal Government, the AFNQL Chiefs held a Special Assembly yesterday and adopted a resolution which confirms that the AFN do not represent the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador for issues related to education.
The AFNQL, the First Nations Education Council and some 20 local First Nations governments of Quebec-Labrador are presently appealing to the courts to ask for a judicial review of the bill on the basis of serious breaches of the Crown's obligations in terms of consultation. The Chiefs of First Nations of Quebec-Labrador intend to continue their actions to get a commitment from the federal government to put aside this Bill and to finally start working with the First Nations in improving their educational services.
About the AFNQL
The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador is the political organization regrouping 43 Chiefs of the First Nations in Quebec and Labrador. www.apnql-afnql.com.
SOURCE: Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador
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