Press Statement: An urgent need to take action to put an end to Quebec's systemic discrimination

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019 12:34pm



“The Premier may attempt to make amends for the past, but I especially wish that he would do so for today, when the Government of Quebec, on this very day, stood before the court and continued to affirm that Quebec has never recognized the right to self-determination of First Nations and that it refuses to recognize that First Nations police services are essential services.” —Ghislain Picard, chief of the AFNQL.

Editor’s Note: This is a response to Quebec Premier François Legault’s comments after the Sept. 30th delivery of a report from Justice Jacques Viens, who led an inquiry into the relationship between Indigenous peoples in Quebec and some of the province’s public services. The inquiry was sparked by accusations of physical and sexual abuse by members of the province’s police force, the Sûreté du Québec. The report has 142 recommendations. It can be read here:

The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) recognizes the gesture of reconciliation that Premier François Legault made today.

“The AFNQL regrets that this first call to action does not insist on the need for the provincial government to first apologize to the women and girls of (n)ations for the harm they have suffered, as demanded by common decency," said Chief Ghislain Picard.

The First Nations are looking towards the future while worrying that the Government of Quebec does not understand the urgency of taking immediate action to correct the current situation. The First Nations are therefore directly inviting the Premier to work with them to put an end to the systemic discriminatory practices among all his public services.

Political will can have no real impact without a complete reworking of Quebec's ways of doing things. Does the Legault government intend to question the existing institutions, which are largely responsible for what has been denounced by Justice (Jacques) Viens?   

Justice Viens' report indicates a direction, a procedure to follow. The AFNQL recognizes this. If the Government of Quebec does not want to have to apologize again in 30 years, Premier Legault must now commit, firmly and publicly, to join with First Nations in respecting the calls to action of Justice Viens. The AFNQL emphasizes that First Nations are in the best position to decide what is good for them and determine their future. Beyond the expressed openness, the Premier of Quebec must formally commit to establishing new foundations by recognizing the right to self-determination. 

The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador is the political organization that unites 43 First Nations Chiefs in Quebec and Labrador.