WENDAKE, QC, Jan. 12, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - "The announcement made today by federal Minister of Aboriginal Affairs on services to Aboriginal Peoples living in urban areas is likely to miss its target", deplores AFNQL Chief Ghislain Picard.
"To improve services for First Nations citizens living outside of our communities, it is essential that Canada and Quebec be concretely involved right now with First Nations Governments who are directly accountable to their citizens. The first thing that the Federal Government should do is to remove the obstacles it created. These obstacles prevent First Nations Governments and institutions from serving their citizens outside of our communities", added Chief Picard.
In the current context, offering adequate services to First Nations citizens living in cities is a major challenge. Federal and provincial bureaucracies mostly pass the buck leaving First Nations citizens in need.
"Beyond today's announcement from the federal Minister, made without consultation with the authorities who are accountable to First Nations citizens, I invite both Ministers responsible for Aboriginal Affairs in Quebec City and Ottawa to engage with the AFNQL to find concrete solutions to widely well-known and serious situations that have been dragging on for a long time; it is indecent to pretend to ignore them. It is not a problem of structure. It is rather to have the willpower to directly tackle the problems. The AFNQL is ready to work with them right now in this direction.
The AFNQL recognizes the important role played by the Native Friendship Centres in urban areas. I wish to emphasize a unique fact in Canada: for more than twenty years and with the support of the Chiefs, Friendship Centres have had their seat at the AFNQL table. It is certainly a plus for a better complementarity of services. But without a clear and concrete commitment from Canada and Quebec, First Nations members will mostly remain second class citizens in Quebec's urban areas. "Our Peoples, regardless of where they live, deserve equity and equality and today's announcement is not a solution to improve the situation", concludes Chief Picard.
The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and 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
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