Secretariat of the Assembly of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador

Secretariat of the Assembly of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador
Cardinal Communication

October 27, 2011 14:42 ET

5th Anniversary of the First Nations Socio-Economic Forum: No Real Progress on the Fundamental Issues - Chief Ghislain Picard

WENDAKE, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - Oct. 27, 2011) - Five years after the most important summit focused on First Nations, which brought together First Nation communities, governments and Quebec's civil society, the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL) has indicated mitigated outcomes regarding this meeting marking an important step in the relations between the First Nations and the society of Quebec. "In some areas, we have made interesting progress. On the other hand, we have observed no real progress on the fundamental issues that concern us, particularly in terms of land management and self-government", declared the Chief of the AFNQL, Ghislain Picard.

Five years ago, in the Innu community of Mashteuiatsh, the First Nations Socio-Economic Forum was held. Hundreds of participants, including Chiefs, members of the First Nations communities of Quebec, the Inuit, and representatives of the provincial and federal governments as well as the civil society took part in the discussions focusing on four themes: economy and employment, education and culture, health, social services and early childhood, and infrastructures and sustainable community development.

The main objective of the Forum was to express needs, initiate and support a series of actions and measures for improving in a concrete, effective and viable manner the social and economic conditions of the First Nations members. The AFNQL welcomes the realization of several initiatives for improving the living conditions of First Nations such as the creation of a First Nations postsecondary institute (the Kiuna Institution, which has just opened its doors in Odanak).

"Despite all of these realizations, many needs could not be expressed and remain unresolved. Today, five years later, what is the situation in terms of these expectations and commitments?" asked Mr. Picard.

Another summit?

In the face of this mitigated observation, Chief Picard suggested that it may be time to hold another summit – one that would allow to address issues that are more political in nature regarding the future of the lands, the exercise of Aboriginal rights and self-government. "Most of the First Nations communities are faced with the same problems they were faced with five years ago and are still forced to fight against poverty. There is a pressing need to improve their conditions of life, and to that end, their development must be based on the principles of autonomy, competency and authority among the actual First Nations", underlined Ghislain Picard.

The Chief of the AFNQL specified that access to quality services requires that full control be assumed by the First Nations over activity sectors and systems and must be based on the comprehensive reinforcement of individual and collective capacities. "If the First Nations and Inuit were living in an emergency situation five years ago, imagine what the situation is now! Not only is our overall situation not improving, but the needs are also increasing, which is confirmed by the Auditor General's report and the Human Development Index of the United Nations for the Aboriginal peoples of Canada", he concluded.

Regarding the AFNQL:

The AFNQL is the regional organization regrouping the 43 Chiefs of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador.

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