NITASKINAN, QC, Jan. 27, 2017 /CNW Telbec/ - The Grand Chief and Chairman of the Atikamekw Nation Council, Constant Awashish, accompanied by Atikamekw elected officials, was in Quebec City yesterday for consultation with the Government of Quebec to develop the first governmental Aboriginal Social Development Action Plan. The objective of the plan, coordinated by the Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones, is to propose new interventions that will improve the living conditions of Aboriginal people and better coordinate government interventions currently in place.
"We accepted the invitation of the Government of Quebec so that we could make them aware of our needs and especially to make clear the specificity of the Atikamekw Nation. While the needs may be similar, each First Nation lives in a socio-economic environment within which priorities may vary. This is what the Government of Quebec must take into account in its action plan. Too often in the past, governments have made decisions, developed policies and put in place action plans without actually consulting with key stakeholders," said Grand Chief Constant Awashish.
The Grand Chief took advantage of the fact that many people working in the communities were seated at the same table in order to share his concerns and possible solutions.
"The real solutions to the problems lie in greater autonomy being granted to the different sectors. It would be important to promote a better sharing of wealth, for example, by receiving dividends from the annual economic rent generated in our territories. It is also about respecting our inherent right to our autonomy. We are the only ones competent to safeguard our culture, our language and our know-how," continued the Grand Chief.
The Chief of the AFNQL, Ghislain Picard, joined his voice to that of Grand Chief Awashish, insisting on the importance of being in control of the social development of our Nations.
Chief Picard, who also attended the meeting convened by the Government of Quebec, stressed that social development is inseparable from the urgency for First Nations to develop their economies. And both depend on greater access to the territories and resources.
"We recognize that Quebec's intention can open new horizons for social redress in our communities. However, the Quebec government must also recognize that the lack of a genuine political relationship based on good faith can slow down any attempt to improve the social context in our communities," the Chief of the AFNQL commented at the end of the meeting.
For the occasion, hundreds of participants, including Chiefs, Inuit Mayors and representatives of Aboriginal organizations, traveled to make their voices heard.
"The consultations allow for an opportunity to discuss with Aboriginal representatives to jointly pinpoint how to pool our efforts to act more efficiently and in a more concerted manner, but also to determine which practical measures might be implemented to enhance the quality of life of First Nations and Inuit (…) Our ultimate objective is to achieve a tangible improvement in the quality of service delivery to Aboriginal citizens," said the Minister responsible for First Nations Affairs, Geoffrey Kelley, in his press release.
About the AFNQL
The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec-Labrador is the political organization representing 43 First Nations chiefs in Quebec and Labrador. www.apnql-afnql.com.
About the Atikamekw Nation Council
The Atikamekw - Atikamekw Sipi Nation Council (ANC) is a not-for-profit corporation created by the Atikamekw Councils of Manawan, Opitciwan and Wemotaci to unite to provide programs and services to the Atikamekw population. At the same time, the ANC is negotiating an agreement in principle with the governments of Canada and Quebec to conclude a treaty. The ANC also plays a political role in support of the historical, political, economic, cultural and social aspirations of the Atikamekw Nation.
SOURCE Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador
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For further information: Council of the Atikamekw Nation, Jimmy Néashit, Communications Coordinator, Council of the Atikamekw Nation, phone: 819-523-6153, ext. 118, [email protected]; Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador, Mélanie Vincent, [email protected], cell: 418-580-4442