MONTREAL, Nov. 21, 2016 /CNW Telbec/ - Through persistent mistakes and turning its back on First Nations women who dared to denounce and in obstinately refusing to address police discrimination and systemic racism towards First Nations in Quebec, the Government of Philippe Couillard is abdicating its responsibilities toward First Nations. This is what the leaders of Quebec Native Women, Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)/Cree Nation Government, the Anishinabeg communities of Kitcisakik, Lac Simon and Abitibiwinni and of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) affirm in one voice.
In the aftermath of a very difficult week for all First Nations women as well as for those who have been supporting them, First Nations leaders demand, as they have been doing for a year now, that the Couillard Government finally take its responsibilities and implements a Provincial Judicial Inquiry that will focus on the relations between Indigenous people and police services and, most important, solutions to move these relations toward real reconciliation.
"The Couillard Government is still hiding behind the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. What we are asking today, is for Quebec to take the immediate means necessary to make sure other women of our Nations do not suffer the same fate. They should hear the cries of alarm that began in Val-d'Or, cries that everybody hears except the Couillard Government. Only a full Provincial Judicial Inquiry into what is happening in Quebec can shed light and find solutions. The future of our children, the future of our Nations is at stake," said the three Anishinabeg leaders.
"Upon his arrival in power, the Couillard Government put an end to the work that was already underway to develop an action plan on discrimination and racism towards First Nations. Why? What are they afraid of? "wondered Viviane Michel, President of Quebec Native Women.
On their end, the Grand Chief of the Cree Nation Government, Dr. Matthew Coon Come and the Chief of the AFNQL, Ghislain Picard, are opposed to the role that the provincial government is giving the national inquiry on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, using it as a pretext for its own inaction: "The Trudeau Government and its Minister of Indigenous Affairs have made a clear commitment to the necessary reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. To hide behind the federal Government's efforts to justify Québec's lack of will is totally irresponsible and unacceptable". First Nations leaders call on Premier Couillard to assume his responsibilities. "Let's remind the provincial government that the United Nations Declaration on the rights of Indigenous peoples guarantees our right to personal safety, something this government seems to oppose," they said.
The leaders affirmed that they will continue to take the necessary steps to protect their populations.
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
For further information: Mélanie Vincent: [email protected], Cell.: 418 580-4442; Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)/Cree Nation Government, Melissa Saganash, (514) 249-8598, [email protected]; Quebec Native Women, Lauréanne Fontaine, (450) 632-0088, [email protected]