Opinion: It is time for Quebec to move towards systemic reconciliation


It is difficult to explain the Legault government’s lack of strategy. So here are some suggestions.

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After three years in power, Prime Minister François Legault wants to breathe new life into his government. The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) hopes that it will transform a responsive government into a government inspired by a real desire to maintain a respectful relationship with the First Nations and not by its own popularity rating.

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It is difficult to explain the lack of strategy of the Legault government when it has had in hand for two years the report of the Viens Commission – a report aimed directly at preventing situations like that of the Joliette hospital with the tragic death. by Joyce Echaquan. A system-wide strategy. A strategy focused on systemic reconciliation.

In order to contribute to the second wind of the Legault government, the AFNQL proposes the following suggestion, accompanied by a few reminders:

With a view to saving precious time, the AFNQL proposes this definition of systemic reconciliation: Systemic reconciliation with the First Nations occurs when the entire system – that is to say the government of Quebec and all the institutions under its responsibility – under the leadership of its Prime Minister actively work to restore harmony and respect towards the First Nations.

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Let us be very clear here: this is the only way to end the social scourge of discrimination and systemic racism.

The AFNQL also reminds the Legault government of some of the proposals made by the Chiefs of the First Nations since the start of its mandate. One of these proposals is the creation of the AFNQL-Quebec political table. Legault accepted the idea. After two meetings – one on health and social services, the other on public safety – it is clear that, like the CAQ government, this initiative is in dire need of a second wind. .

The AFNQL-Quebec political table must be inspired by respect for the jurisdiction of the First Nations rather than the status quo and the imposition of the jurisdiction of the provincial government. It is one of the essential foundations of systemic reconciliation.

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Another recent proposal from the AFNQL made not only to the government, but to all Quebec parliamentarians, is the holding, as soon as possible, of a special parliamentary commission on the relationship with the First Peoples. Such a meeting took place only once, in 1983, under the government of René Lévesque.

The reference to Lévesque is not here by chance. Among the subjects that will be addressed during the commission as proposed by the AFNQL, several are linked to the nationalist agenda of the Legault government.

The chiefs of the AFNQL are the first to understand the importance of preserving the pride of a people, its language, its culture and its territory. However, a nation that respects itself and seeks recognition does not have to impose its supremacy on other nations that share the same territory. Colonial mentality and narrow-mindedness, under the pretext of nationalism or not, have no place in a society committed to systemic reconciliation.

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A third proposal from the AFNQL is to hold, next November, an “economic meeting” involving economic actors from civil society in addition to the federal and provincial governments. The Legault government has agreed to get involved and is actively collaborating in the realization of this event.

The AFNQL hopes that this important event on the participation of the First Nations in the economic recovery will witness this second wind of the Legault government by demonstrating a real desire to get out of the status quo and preconceived ideas.

Ghislain Picard is Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador.

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