The Inaugural Speech Eludes the First Nations – “The Silence of Quebec Leaves Us No Other Choice” – Chief Ghislain Picard, is Taking the Road to The UN
« The silence of Quebec leaves us no other choice »
Chief Ghislain Picard, is taking the road to the UN
Wendake, May 10, 2007 – Following the inaugural speech, the Chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL), Ghislain Picard, is very disappointed by the complete silence of the Premier towards the issues which affect the First Nations, in spite of the urgent situation, which he personally acknowledged at the First Nations Socioeconomic Forum held prior to the launching of elections. “In all evidence, the First Nations are not a priority to Quebec. The silence maintained by Quebec leaves us no other choice. We must step up our efforts to have our rights recognized and bring the government to honor its obligations towards us”, stated Chief Ghislain Picard, who announces that, from now on, the First Nations of Quebec will make themselves heard outside the province.Thus, he intends to take a more significant place on the international forums and announces the intention of the AFNQL to participate in the 6th session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, whose main theme is: Territories and Resources. “We have indicated that we would use the international forums to support the legitimacy of the positions we advocate and this is what we intend to do”, specified Chief Picard. “We will join our moral and political strength with other Indigenous peoples of the world for a better recognition of our rights by all the States.”
The National Assembly Must Support the Declaration
On the other hand, in a letter transmitted recently to the three party leaders, Ghislain Picard asks that the National Assembly, by way of resolution, adopts a motion of support towards the International Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. “It is the duty of the Quebec National Assembly to distances itself from Canada?s stance and affirm solemnly its support to the Declaration of Indigenous Peoples, a document which is the result of more than 20 years of progress on the rights of Indigenous Peoples on the international scene”, stated Chief Picard.
The Declaration has been adopted by the UN Human Rights Council, but its adoption by the General Assembly was delayed by one year, mainly because of Canada’s pressure.
Recalling that in 1985, the National Assembly adopted a resolution recognizing officially the Aboriginal Nations, Ghislain Picard invites the elected representatives of Quebec to, once again be innovative and insist that the government of Canada forge ahead with the United Nations Declaration as have the two opposition parties in Ottawa. The AFNQL was quite vocal during the last electoral campaign and questioned the political parties on the importance of the First Nations for the future of Quebec. The AFNQL published a document called “Ultimate Appeal to the political parties”, which contains the principles and issues which the First Nations are confronted with. With the intent of pursuing its efforts and in order to increase its means of action, the AFNQL intends to bring these numerous issues before the UN. “We intend to be more and more present on the international scene, in order to move our rights forward and advance the government policies in our favor”, stated Chief Ghislain Picard. The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues was created by the Economic Council (ECOSOC) in July 2000, with the goals of providing advice on aboriginal issues to the United Nations system and raising public awareness on these issues. It includes 16 independent experts who serve in their personal capacity.
The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador is the regional organization representing the Chiefs of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador. The delegation who will be accompanying the Regional Chief includes Chiefs Raphaël Picard (Betsiamites) and Jean-Charles Piétacho (Ekuanitshit), as well as a few professional experts of the AFNQL.
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